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St Mary's Cedar

St Mary's Cedar - photograph from archives, taken in 1890

This Cedar tree is believed to have been planted at the same time as the Cedar outside St Alban's Abbey in 1803, when a considerable number of Cedars had been brought back from Lebanon by the Duke of Bedford for planting on his Estate. The Countess Spencer planted the St Alban's Abbey cedar, at a ceremony that was also attended by a Thomas Baskerville from Redbourn. It is likely that he was instrumental in acquiring the cedar for his own parish church of St Mary's.

St Mary's Cedar - photograph from archives, taken in 1950

Two hundred years later, in 2003, some large branches broke off the tree in a gale and, because it was considered to be dangerous, plans were put in motion for it to be cut right down and replaced. However, a parishioner, Dr Eileen Roberts, led a campaign to save the tree. There was tremendous support and a compromise was reached when the District Arborist, an appropriately named Mr Andrew Branch, suggested that if the damaged parts were cut out that the tree would have many years of life left, as Cedars of Lebanon , unlike other pine trees, are able to regenerate growth.

St Mary's Cedar - photograph by Nel Walker, Project VolunteerWhilst not as grand as in its heyday, the tree is still impressive, standing at a height of 16 metres. It seems to have survived its surgery well and there are signs of new growth above the remaining older branches, which still spread widely and majestically.

Do you know anything about this tree's companion at St Albans Abbey? If so, get in touch!



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