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What's New December 2016

New sites
Eye; Ivington – Chipps House; Leysters Pole; Norton Canon; Wheatcommon Lane, Richards Castle – Paul Wood
New photos/information:
Ashford Carbonell; Berriew; Castle Caereinion; Hope under Dinmore – Paul Wood  
Bromham, Wiltshire – Dennis Powney

What's New November 2016

New Sites
More; Llangasty Tal-y-llyn Lane; Norton; Pant-y-Cored; Peterchurch (Hinton Court); Presteigne; St Fagans; Tedstill; Vowchurch; Wormbridge; Yarsop Lane (Nash Wood) - Paul Wood
Ellon Castle – Charles Henderson
New photos/information
Bacton; Byton; Capel-y-ffin; Capel-y-ffin Baptist Chapel; Ewyas Harold; Kenderchurch, nr Pontrilas; Kilpeck; Llanbadarn Fawr (Crossgates); Llanbedr Ystradyw; Llandefalle; Llanerfyl; Llanfeugan; Llangasty Tal-y-Llyn; Llanthony – churchyard; Llanthony Road; Llanveynoe churchyard; Llanwenarth Citra; Myndtown; Newtown/Dolfor Road; Norbury; Peterchurch; Snead; St Devereux; Talachddu; Talgarth; Yarpole - Paul Wood
Elcho Castle; Glamis Castle; Monifieth (The Grange); Murthly Castle; Pitmedden House; Robert the Bruce’s yew; Tyninghame House; Whittinghame – Charles Henderson
One of the yews at Llanfeugan  has for many years been used as storage space and workshop. This is not only an inappropriate use of churchyard space, it is no way to treat an old yew. The recent removal of most of this material has allowed us for the first time to measure the tree and discover it to be Veteran, with a likely age of 500+ years. This is one of the most impressive yew sites in Wales, boasting no fewer than 2 ancient, 7 veteran and 2 notable yews.
At Rycote in Oxfordshire the ancient male yew has developed a single female branch. This was noted and photographed byDavid Alderman.
After observing a young yew at Presteigne, Paul Wood found photographs from the 1890s and 1940s showing that a large yew once grew on the same spot. Further searching uncovered sections of the original old yew's stem, from which the new tree has grown. 

What's New October 2016

Technology is a wonderful thing when it runs smoothly. The last few months have proved frustrating while the Ancient Yew Group website has changed its server. It is hoped that the problems have now all been ironed out.  
Our first act is to welcome Paul Wood as a new full member of the Ancient Yew Group. This is in recognition of his considerable input in the last year or so. In the Tree Register’s Newsletter No. 24 an article called Marker and boundary yew is based on Paul’s discoveries. The following is taken from the article: “Paul has a background in both farming and archaeology and has always been aware of the presence of yews in the countryside, whether in a field or the garden of a 17th century cottage. Over the years he has noted down the location of yews seen on his travels and is now beginning to visit and document. His first year’s contribution to yew tree knowledge was to record no fewer than 30 new veterans (yews with a likely age of 500+).” Since he described this as the ‘tip of the iceberg’ we eagerly await more of his discoveries. He also visits and reports on churchyard yews. Paul introduces himself on the About Us-Introduction webpage.

October 2016

What’s New June 2016

New photos/information

Bronllys;  Cantref;  Cathedine;  Cilmery;  Colva;  Glasbury;  Glascwm;  Llanafan-Fechan;  Llanddetty;  Llanddetty Hall Farm;  Llanddew;  Llanddewi’r Cwm;  Llandefaelog Fach;  Llandefaelog-tre’r-graig;  Llanelieu;  Llanfeugan;  Llanfihangel Tal-y-llyn;  Llanfrynach; Llangorse;  Maesyminis; Upper Chapel – Paul Wood

Watermillock – Toby Hindson/Lesley Elphick

Staunton (Forest of Dean);  Sutton Veny  – Peter Norton

Eastham – Eirian Evans

Upper Chapel – Bryony Smith

New site

Yester House – David Alderman

Lost yew

Llanywern - Paul Wood

June 2016

What’s New May 2016


We report damage to three yews: at Uffculme House in Kings Heath, Birmingham, and at Upper Chapel (Dyffryn Honddu) and Penegoes in Powys.
It was an item in the Birmingham Mail on 24th March that alerted us to the felling of a ‘500 year old tree’ at Uffculme House. This was carried out on the instructions of the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust. The tree had been judged to be ‘over mature’. For a fuller account click on this link.  
The felled yew at Upper Chapel (Dyffryn Honddu), also a tree of fragments, has been reduced to a fraction of its former self. This treatment was carried out on the advice of a local tree professional. The tree will struggle to survive this treatment.  
At Penegoes, an ancient specimen with a girth of almost 30ft, has had one of its three fragments blown down.
We cannot do much to combat the effect of the storm force winds that felled part of the Penegoes Yew. But surely we should at least be able to hold to account those who destroy a tree for being 'over mature' or those who fail to follow the proper procedures that have resulted in the decimation of the yew at Upper Chapel? 

May 2016

What’s New April 2016

Yew Map

For many years the Ancient Yew Group has been building its database of yews, which currently has 4,750 entries. The oldest yews are ‘Ancients’ with a likely age of 800+ and ‘Veterans’ with a likely age of 500+. These can now be located on an extraordinary map created with the Conservation Foundation using information only available on our database and website. Click on Yew Map at the top left of this page.

The majority of our oldest yews are found in churchyards, as revealed in the figures below:
In England 440 of the 675 sites are churchyards
In Wales 225 of the 243 sites are churchyards
In France all 53 sites are churchyards

Many of these sites, particularly in Wales, contain more than one ancient or veteran yew and the number of individual trees for which information is available on the map is as follows:

England - churchyards: 166 ancient yews and 367 veteran yews
Wales - churchyards: 104 ancient yews and 274 veteran yews

England - outside of churchyards: 50 ancient yews and 309 veteran yews
Wales - outside of churchyards: 5 ancient yews and 13 veteran yews

Of the 12 locations recorded in Scotland, only Fortingall and Dryburgh Abbey are ecclesiastical sites.  

New photos/information

Llanwrin; Machynlleth; Penegoes – Paolo Bavaresco
High Ham; Pitney – Tim Hills
Hunton – Mark Turner
Clifford; Clyro; Crickadarn; Cusop; Llanbister; Llanigon; Llangynog - Pwll-du; Llanstephan - Paul Wood

New trees

Bryngwyn; Bryngwyn - Rhosgoch Lane - Paul Wood

April 2016

What’s New March 2016

New sites

Bishopstone;  Crossway;  Brilley;  Limebrook;  Madley;  Moccas churchyard; Tyberton – Paul Wood
Aymestry parish – Paul Wood/Tim Hills 
Henden Manor Estate – Mr and Mrs Lovegrove
Oswestry – Ancient Tree Hunt

New photos/information

Draycott-in-the-Moors;  Glasbury;  Glyn Ceiriog;  Grendon Bishop;  Little Sodbury Manor;  Nackington;  Rainham;  Seal;  Seale;  Shorne;  Speldhurst;  Walberton;  Winscombe Vicarage - Tim Hills

Bleddfa; Bodcott Farm;  Brilley;  Burghill;  Llanfihangel Rhydithon;  Llangunllo; Moccas Court;  Stapleton;  Staunton on Wye;  Winforton;  Yazor – Paul Wood 

Cwmcarvan;  Helmdon;  Llansoy;  Marston St Lawrence;  Pen-y-clawdd;  Thorpe Mandeville;  Winterbourne Dauntsey;  Wivelsfield – Peter Norton

Aberhafesp – Geoff Garlick
Bramdean – Russell Cleaver
Codsall – Tony Hackett
Icklesham – Owen Johnson
Lanercost Priory – Graham Wilkinson
Preston Bagot – Ancient Tree Hunt
Yalding – June Chapman

Lost yews

Chilstone;  Crossway, Brilley;  Glasbury old church

Photo compilations

Peter Norton has created two new photo compilations of churchyard yews in East Sussex and Somerset 

March 2016

What's New February 2016

New Articles

Historic Churchyard Yews  – the conservation and repair of Ecclesiastical buildings

Toby Hindson was commissioned to write an article for this annual publication (2015). This recognises that churchyards too are historic, with many containing one or more yew trees that might be coeval with the building. His article begins:       

"Many of the yews that exist in our churchyards are widely held to pre-date the Christian consecration of the church site. This exaggeration has its roots in Victorian guidebooks and wishful local histories. Such yews do exist in British churchyards, but investigations by the Ancient Yew Group (AYG) show that while the myths surrounding them are many, pre- Christian yews themselves are relatively few."  

Toby Hindson has been working on the question of ageing the yew with particular reference to its specific morphology, and now with the kind assistance of others has a series of papers in preparation which are aimed at arboricultural journals. These will deal with issues like the shortcomings of the theories currently used by others in aging and assessing yews, and a new and more specie appropriate theory and methodology of assessment. These works will be able to underpin a more accurate ageing system.

A Celebration of the Majesty, Mystique and Mystery of British Yews by Paul Greenwood

It is a commonly known and understood phrase that pictures speak a thousand words. Paul Greenwood introduces a series of videos in which he lets the yew ‘speak for itself’. They can be found by clicking on the link above or under Yew Articles → Non Churchyard Yew → Paul Greenwood-Yew on Yewtube

New sites

Eccles Green;  Hyatt Sarnesfield Farm;  Norton Canon hedge; Sarnesfield, A480;  Weobley, Hereford Road –  Paul Wood

Capel-y-ffin Baptist Chapel;  Leigh  – Tim Hills

New photos/information

Farlow Glebe;  Knighton-on-Teme;  Knighton-on-Teme Marker Yew; Loughton; Shirley – Tim Hills

Burford;  Wormsley – Paul Wood

Maesmynis – Geoff Garlick

Eastham - Melanie Carlile

February 2016

What’s New – January 2016

Managing your yew tree   -  Russell Ball

Ancient Yew Group member Russell Ball and the Conservation Foundation have teamed up to produce this video for church wardens and others who find themselves responsible for this priceless national resource. Nowhere else in the world is it possible to find such a large number of ancient trees so closely associated with a sacred space. The Ancient Yew Group has recorded no fewer than 900 churchyard yews in England and Wales considered to have an age of 500 years plus. Of these 270 are thought to have an age that exceeds 800 years. A truly unique and priceless resource.  

On many occasions during the lifetime of a 500 year old (veteran) or an 800 year old (ancient) yew, decisions will have been taken regarding the best way to manage the tree. This will have usually been to ‘leave alone unless absolutely necessary’. While that remains true today, there are occasionally times when intervention is needed. This video covers those occasions with common sense advice on issues ranging from the treatment of ivy to looking after the root system.

We are the present custodians of trees planted and cared for over many centuries, from those 500 year old trees planted in the Middle Ages, the 800 year old trees planted by the Normans, even older specimens planted by Saxons and early Welsh saints, with the possibility that some might even pre-date Christianity.  

There is simply no excuse for us to fail in the duty of care we owe to these remarkable yews. 

The item is located in both the Church of England and Church in Wales webpages. 

Journal Page

The following papers can be read in Forest Systems, a journal of the Instituto Nacional de Investigacion y Technologia Agraria y Alimentaria 

Introduction to the special section TAXUS     Xavier Garcia, Pere Casals, Jordi Camprodon

Response of European yews to climate change: a review    Peter Thomas, Xavier Garcia-Marti

Geographic consistency in the seed dispersal patterns of Taxus baccata L. in the Iberian Peninsula   Jessica E. Lavabre, Daniel García

Restoration of European yew (Taxus baccata L.) in Mediterranean mountains: importance of seedling nursery fertilization and post-planting light levels  Juan L. Nicolás Peragón, Luis F. Benito Matias, Jaime Puértolas Simón

Forest structure of Mediterranean yew (Taxus baccata L.) populations and neighbor effects on juvenile yew performance in the NE Iberian PeninsulaPere Casals, Jordi Camprodon, Antonia Caritat, Ana I. Rios, David Guixé, Xavier Garcia-Marti, Santiago Martín-Alcón, Lluis Coll

Yew matriarchies of the Sierra de Francia. Dynamics and ecology of recently identified Yew populations in the Central Iberian Mountain Range (Sistema Central) Prudencio Fernández-González, Antonio Fernández-Morcuende, Enrique García-Gomariz, M. José Rodríguez-Rivas, Esteban Sánchez-Amador, Fernando Vasco-Encuentra

Growth-climate relationships at yew and wild service trees on the eastern edge of their range in Europe   Anna Cedro, Bernard Cedro

Taxus globosa Schltdl. (Mexican yew) and Taxus baccata L. (European yew): intra and interspecies analysis of taxol content and biological activity according to different sources  Lidia Osuna-Torres, Xavier García-Martí, Elsa Ventura-Zapata, Javier López-Upton, Alejandro Zamilpa-Alvarez, Manases González-Cortázar, Maribel Herrera-Ruiz, Nadia Tapia-Barrera

New sites

Bobbing; Charing Heath – Cliff Hansford

Hannington;  Winterslow – Peter Norton

Thornton Castle – Judy Dowling


New photos/information

Aston Botterell-field – Paul Wood

Boughton Aluph – Jonathan Cable

Boughton Malherbe – Stephen Young

Eastry – Tim Hills

Mariners Hill, near Westerham – Owen Johnson

Otterbourne;  Shaftesbury – Peter Norton

Throwley – Cliff Hansford


Lost yew

Church Pulverbatch


January 2016