The Ashridge Estate near Berkhamsted is a large park covering some 5000 acres of forests, common land and chalk downlands, owned by the National Trust. Formerly part of a now disbanded country estate, it has a rich history and, within its woodlands, many special trees.
During the Second World War American troops were based at Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire. Two months before D-Day some young soldiers recorded their stay in England by carving into a mature beech tree.
They engraved their home states - Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan, New York, Illinois and South Dakota - and the date, 4.5.44. As the servicemen were American, we think this was 5th April 1944, not the 4th May as, being Americans, they would have been accustomed to writing the month, the date and then the year.
The engraving is topped by a 'V' for victory and followed by ". . . - " which is 'V' in Morse Code.
Bob Davis, the Head Forester for the National Trust, said ‘It is quite humbling to think these frightened young men, a long way from home, would soon be facing the horrors of the Normandy landings.’
This old oak on the Ashridge Estate has a very distinctive shape; it looks like an old-fashioned candle-holder!
The Candelabra Tree has been used for training Special Trees and Woods project volunteers in how to measure trees, as its unusual shape presents something of a challenge to a tape measure. This strange form comes from having formerly been part of a hedge, possibly to protect an old droveway nearby from use by people on the common.
This grand old oak is one of a series of trees marking an old boundary, possibly between Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.
The tree is clearly very ancient, as is shown by its colossal six-metre circumference, and a large boundary oak is marked where it stands on a map from 1762. Ashridge Estate Head Forester Bob Davis says, "if it is the same tree, that would make it older than America!"
The beauty and tranquility of the woods and trees at Ashbrige inspired a number of the artworks entered in the 2008 Special Woods Art Competition: