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Wesley's tree

An elm tree. In Britain. And it's alive! Sort of...

23 November 2007

Now this may not look like a grand old tree, but don’t they say looks can be deceiving? Well this is the ancient remains of an elm tree that was between 200 and 300 years old! This makes it an arboreal monument to the thousands of elm trees that were lost throughout Britain in the 1970’s from Dutch elm disease.

The elm can be found in Stony Stratford near Milton Keynes, perhaps not the first place you would think of looking for an ancient tree. It has a girth of over seven and a half metres and is one of around just 200 that the Ancient Tree Hunt has recorded all over the country. When you consider that we have over 4000 oaks on record it goes to show just how rare elm trees have become.

Link to Wesley's tree

The reason why this tree has been protected and retained is due to the fact that it is linked to the 18th century poet John Wesley. Wesley is said to have visited the town five times and on one occasion actually preached from underneath the tree itself. The moment was even commemorated by a plaque put up in 1950.

Unfortunately the tree has been reduced to its current state by vandalism, which has reduced the tree to a hollow. However in adversity one sucker from its root system survives next to the remains of the original trunk, to remind us what elm leaves look like!

*Stop press!* In addition to the tree in Stony Stratford there is in fact another 'Wesley's tree' - an oak tree in Cheshire. Perhaps he did a tour of the country, preaching under trees? If you know of any more, contact us!

Wesley's tree. Photo Diane Galloway