In recent years it was thought that this stately row of mature lime trees on the Back Common in Tylers Green had been planted in 1920 to commemorate the dreadful toll of thirty men from this small village who were killed in World War One. There are seven lime trees and one beech, with two obvious gaps, in a very evenly-spaced line. So it was assumed that each of the ten trees represented three men.
Volunteers Chris and Russell Read decided to record these trees as special so started researching them. The aim was to find out when they were planted and to see if the event was covered by the local press.
Their time consuming research into contemporary newspaper records and Parish Council minutes has shown that they were not in fact planted until 1937. The trees therefore also commemorated the coronation of George VI and were prompted by the wave of planting schemes marking the event, for example a beech tree was planted in West Wycombe.
Moreover, the planting had definitely involved thirty trees, not in the more conventional avenue (which had been considered) but in groups all around Tylers Green; mostly lime but with a few beech. Each tree therefore represented just one of the thirty men listed on the stone memorial in St Margaret's churchyard. Each man lost was remembered by name on a metal plaque at the foot of each tree. Two plaques have recently been found.
The last of the trees was reportedly planted on Armistice Day in 1937 in the churchyard itself. To determine whose name would be on the tree in the churchyard, a hat containing all thirty names was presented at a British Legion meeting in 1937 and Sidney Fountain's name was pulled from it.
This photo shows one of the trees on the Back Common, probably one that features in the photo above and still stands proud today. It was taken in about 1947 and shows local resident Doreen Herd when she was 17 with her young cousin.
After recognising the significance of these Memorial Trees, the Special Trees & Woods Project worked with the Chepping Wycombe Parish Council, the Penn & Tylers Green Residents' Association and the Royal British Legion to clear undergrowth, carry out necessary tree surgery and replace the missing trees.
An information board showing the location of all the trees and photos of some of the men they commemorate was produced and now stands on Back Common close to the trees which inspired the research. The photo shows Earl Howe admiring the board.
On Sunday 28th June 2009, the 90th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles which brought an end the First World War, more than 200 people gathered to re-dedicate the trees and remember the fallen servicemen they commemorate. More information about the event, which was organised by the local branch of the Royal British Legion, is on the Penn & Tylers Green Residents' Association website.