Monday, June 02, 2008

My Town Monday - The panshanger Oak.

This week I am going to tell you about the 'mystical' Panshanger oak tree. I was recently away on my school trip and one evening the conversation turned to this Oak Tree, it seems that some local folk don't believe that it exists, its a fairly well kept secret!!
The history surrounding this oak is colourful, there are lots of ideas as to the age of the tree ranging from the oldest unconfirmed estimate of a thousand years, to a more reasonable 450 years!!
This tree is said by some to have been planted by Queen Elizabeth I. Sir Winston Churchill, who planted an oak nearby, grown from one of its acorns, described the Great Oak as the “finest and most stately oak growing in the South-east of England”.
In 1855 a chap called Mr Pallett measured the tree to be seventy-two feet tall he reported - The western is the fair side of this gigantic Oak, and should be seen by all who pay it a visit. It rather has the appearance as if some years ago it had been struck at the top by lightning, that the lightning passing down on the sunny side of the trunk, made a cleft in about the centre (whence a starling was seen to fly from its nest), and, still passing down, apparently injured a horizontal branch near the ground, afterwards severed from the stem.
The Tree is well supported and preserved, excepting the cleft before referred to, which could easily be protected from further decay.
At five feet high it measures twenty-one feet in circumference, and contains 974 feet, or nineteen loads, twenty-four feet.
Its age is problematical, and it would be interesting to know if any record exists of the planting. I should rather imagine the Tree not to have been planted, but that the acorn, falling into a very rich stratum of loam grew very rapidly. As it contained 315 feet in 1719, it could hardly be less than 200 years old at that date, which would make it 374 years old at the present time. So far as appearances go, and from its shape and size, I believe it may live as long in the future as it has in the past, to be a centre of attraction for many generations.
In 1946 a report was made in the 'Hertfordshire Countryside' Magazine - In 1822 Strutt said it scarcely seemed to have reached its prime, though the spire was already dead. It was then 19ft. at 3ft. above the ground and supposed to contain 1,000ft. of timber. The top of the tree had been killed by lightning, which travelled down the trunk, severing the sinews, so to speak, of one or two of the main branches, and causing them to fall with their extremities on the ground though they still remained alive.
In 1905 the girth was 21ft. 4in. at 5ft., and since then there has been no further growth, though several of the branches still produce foliage and fruit.
Today the tree is alive and strong and it is thought that the life span of a solid oak couls be a thousand years, 300 years to get to full size, 300 years to mature and 300 years to die, give or take a few years.
Looking at photos of the tree its hard to appreciate just how huge it is !


Debbielou said...

Amazing ! and what a business oportunity - flogging acorns from such a pedigree tree !!

Terrie Farley Moran said...

Wow, Lyzzy,

That is one heck of a tree!

I am laughing at Debbielou's comment!

Debbie, you are destined to be a millionaire!


LuLu said...

WOW - what an interesting fact and all about a tree ! ! Told you I was missing your historical updates!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Does you oak seem overendowed with seeds this year? We are wading through them?

debra said...

What an amazing oak tree and a great story. Our house is about 175 years old. There is a huge maple in front, which is probably nearly as old as the house. Unfortunately, it has a huge hole in the base, and a crack running up it. We're going to have it looked at next week. If it has to come down, I will be very sad.

Barbara Martin said...

Being an admirer of trees, that is truly beautiful. According to old wives tales, oak trees are said to be powerful protection against evil.

Maureen said...

Holy Cow! That is too cool...and I love the picture you took of the tree!

Travis Erwin said...

That is some tree. Living in an area of few trees I appreciate them as much as anyone and this one is spectacular.

Alexandra said...

Awesome photos and love the story behind them - welcome back Lyzzy! *STAMPIN HUGS Alex

Kim Marie said...

Neat! Thanks for sharing! I'm always interested in stories that have such a great flavor and legacy about them!
Kim Marie

Manna said...

WOW, what a great story! Awesome pictures. Thanks for sharing!