Owned by the Corporation of London, this public open space is really special and has been appreciated as a special site for some time. Many of the trees at Burnham Beeches have names as they have formed curious shapes over the years and are easily recognisable - and big!
'His Majesty' was a giant beech pollard, the oldest and largest in the British Isles. When it fell in October 1987, during the great storm, it was estimated to be about 600 years old. In 1989 a replacement tree was planted by the Lord Mayor of London to commemorate the 800th year of the mayorality of the City of London. Pictured here, His Majesty II was some way off its name sake when measured in 2007 with a girth of only 0.68 metres.
Mendelssohn’s Tree doesn’t rival its impressive neighbours, with a girth of only 0.12 metres and a less than impressive height of 3.8 metres. This young beech tree was planted to replace the original Mendelssohn’s tree and to commemorate 125 years of ownership of Burnham Beeches by the Corporation of London. The Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany planted it on 20th October 2005. The orignal tree which was a beech pollard suffered storm damage in 1990 and eventually died. It was under this tree in 1838 that Felix Mendelssohn is said to have found inspiration for some of his music. A part of the original tree is found in the Barbican art centre in London.
The Cage Pollard, pictured here, was named by Helen Read so the tree could be included in the 50 great British trees recognised to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee. In 2007, Helen and volunteer Trevor measured the hollow tree with 'bars' and recorded a girth of 5.21 metres. This tree is famous after appearing in the block buster Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, starring Kevin Costner.
A plaque in Burnham Beeches marks the site of the original Jenny Lind tree. Born in Stockholm, this famous soprano (1820-1887) was known all over the world as the "Swedish Nightingale". It is said that she would often sit beneath the ancient and gnarled beech studying, memorising and singing her next opera. Long after the demise of the original tree, a young beech tree was planted in 1987 to mark the centenary of her death by the Swedish Ambassador, Mr Leif Leifland. Twenty years later, this new beech is thriving. It has reached 14 metres in height with a girth of 68 cm.
The 'Druid's Oak' is still standing, though it now has a smaller canopy than shown in this old postcard where it is called 'The Old Druid'.
Special tree volunteers measured its huge girth in 2007 and recorded it as 8.9 metres.
The origin of the name, which has been used for at least 80 years, is unknown. If you know, please tell us!
Burnham Beeches inspired the following entries into our 2008 Special Woods Art Competition:
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