THAT OLD CHESTNUT
A Poem by Tracey Smart
Walking through the park on a Sunday afternoon
The sun's out now, but it'll probably rain soon
Decided to sit under the Old Chestnut Tree
His trunk provides a seat and I can sit there for free
A stately pose over 400 years old
Subjected to drought, or so I've been told
All the others died, he's the only one remaining
I enjoy this old chesnut he doesn't do my brain in
Other trees his age are protected by the forestry
But this old man has been left alone and we can see
He loves his spot and enjoys all the attention
The vocal point - everyone gives him a mention
Come rain or shine he always looks grand
Through all my times of upset, he always lends a hand
It's a shame he won't survive for 400 years more
The truth of the matter he could fall in less than four
So while he's here I'll pass by every day
Sit and enjoy the moment and let time pass away
I always take my rubbish I wouldn't him offend
Because that old chestnut tree is my favourite friend
Rickmansworth Park was enclosed as a deer park by the Lord of the Manor, Sir Thomas Fotherley, around 1680. According to a local history of the Park by Adrienne Jacques, he planted a lime avenue and sweet chestnuts for shade.
The Park was eventually put up for sale and purchased by the Royal Masonic Institute for Girls in 1928. This saved the Park from developers and means that a number of old trees, mostly sweet chestnuts, are still present. The School grounds are not open to the public. However, our tree stands on the area to the south end of the Park which the school donated to the Town Council for the bypass and to compensate for re-routing footpaths.
By far the largest sweet chestnut in the park is an old giant close to the gate to Rickmansworth Park Primary School. When project volunteers Brian and Tracy hugged this acient tree, they measured its girth at over 9 metres. This is the largest sweet chestnut the project has found.
The tree is just east of the footbridge that connects the park to the town.
Southern end of Rickmansworth Park
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