Hoo is a Saxon word for spur of a hill which neatly describes the position of this large park that now form the grounds of a grand hotel. Luton Hoo was previously a country manor house, re-built in the 18th Century. At that time the original park was also redesigned and expanded by the famous landscape gardener Capability Brown.
An article dating from 1899 about Luton Hoo mentioned an impressive collection of trees planted by distinguished visitors to the house including royalty from across Europe. On investigation, project volunteer Louise found just one plaque. Placed by a tall Wellingtonia this commemorates its planting by the Bishop of St. Albans in 1883.
However, the grounds at Luton Hoo provide a setting for a fine selection of Bedfordshire champion trees along with the British champion Golden Oak. (Champion trees are the tallest or 'fattest' of their species locally or nationally. Records of champion trees are held by the Tree Register of the British Isles.)
On the golf course can be found the huge stumps of two Sweet Chestnuts that must have been an impressive sight in their prime - the biggest has a girth of 7.9m. Rumour has it that rabbits have moved into the decaying stump and can sometimes be seen popping out of the top!
Another Sweet Chestnut provides a remarkable testament to the survival powers of trees. Its original trunk is long gone but several suckers have since grown to full height creating impressive columns. The girth of the whole clump was measured at 13.7m. Seats have been carved inside enabling visitors to gaze up into the heavens from within this cathedral-like tree.
Other trees include various species of:
There are also many examples of other less common species to enjoy. The splendid tree below is a Manna Ash which dwarfs the seat in its shade.
Once this grand park would have been reserved for the exclusive use of a privileged few. Now the grounds can be enjoyed by any paying visitors to the hotel. If you would like to arrange to see these trees or have any questions, please contact the Estate Manager, Richard Biffen.
The hotel is signposted on the A1081. If you decide to visit these special trees please contact the Luton Hoo Hotel.