Mighty Oaks From Little Acorns Grow

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.

SCP Cathedral Oak 1All 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.

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4 thoughts on “Mighty Oaks From Little Acorns Grow

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  1. I could find no reference to a Sherston Oak in my copy of Hilliers manual of Trees and Shrubs or on the internet but I did find reference to houses for sale at ‘Sherston’, Quercus Road, Tetbury, Gloucestershire, Details from Zoopla. So perhaps the answer is to be found in Tetbury?
    Kind regards, Barbara Johnson.

  2. Thank you Barbara.

    There is a village called Sherston near Tetbury (and Quercus is the genus name for Oak,) There is also another village called Wilton, near Marlborough and The Savernake Forest where one of our oaks originated,. Somebody has suggested, “Salisbury!” but without further detail.

    The Mystery deepens.

  3. Barbara Johnson again,
    The only reference I could find was on the Tree Council Website under ‘Sherston Village English Oak’, which was planted for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on 16th December 2012.

    Kind regards
    Barbara Johnson.

  4. Barbara, that’s a really useful piece of information; thank you.

    We are trying to remember exactly who (or what organisation) donated the trees but unfortunately our favourite tree-man, who probably knows, is on sick leave.

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