We were given three English oak tree saplings for the park. The saplings, perhaps ten years old, were grown from the acorns of ancient Wiltshire oaks: the Cathedral Oak, Cromwell’s Oak and, we were told, the Sherston Oak.
The Cathedral Oak, a magnificent tree, huge and contorted, 10 metres round and believed to be more than a thousand years old is possibly the second oldest oak tree in the UK. It grows in Savernake Forest, no more than a couple of kilometres from Marlborough and not much further from the UK’s oldest oak tree, the Big Bellied Oak.
Cromwell’s Oak is on Woolmore Farm near Melksham. According to legend, in 1643 Cromwell stayed at the farm and after the battle of Roundway Down, hanged four Royalist prisoners from the tree. In Cromwell’s time it would already have been more than 300 years old, a sturdy enough gibbet.
We had been told that the Sherston Oak is on the Wilton Estate but neither the Wilton Estate nor Google could help us find it; Google could not even produce a photograph and the helpful lady in Wilton Estate Office wrote :
“Our head gardener has never come across the Sherston Oak, nor has our now retired forester, who worked on the Estate for over 45 years.”
A mystery; an unidentified oak sapling! If anybody can help please, please get in touch.
All three saplings have been planted in Sleeper Field. The hope is that they will be grown trees when the park’s veteran oaks begin to fail sometime in your great (great, great) grandchildren’s time.
In collaboration with Ian B.