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Waltham St. Lawrence Yew

A great example of a churchyard yew in Berkshire...

4 September 2008

We like to be democratic here on Tree of the Moment and it has been several months since a yew has been featured, so we felt another was overdue. This specimen in Waltham St. Lawrence in Berkshire is a great example of a churchyard yew.

Link to Waltham St. Lawrence Yew

With a girth of 4.57 metres it is far from being the largest yew on record, but as we know size isn't everything and is still an ancient, albeit a relatively young one - if that isn't a paradox!

Verifier Elizabeth Henderson visited the tree and found that three large branches had layered successfully six metres from the main trunk. Because of its position near to the gate of the church, it has been severely cut and pollarded so one can see evidence of other layers that have been cut off in the past. A rusty chain can also be seen hanging from one of the upper branches. Damaged in storms in the 1980's, the precise planting date is unclear but could be in the early 1600's.

One problem with many churchyard yews of a certain age is that the parent tree may have long gone but new shoots grow in its place, with the genetic material of the parent tree. So there are many examples of 1,000 year old yews where there is little or no material left from the original but its great, great, great grandchild is growing in the same spot! A great example is the Llangernyw Yew in Conwy. For further information on yew trees take a look at the Ancient Yew Group website or Fred Hageneder's book: Yew: A History.

Waltham St. Lawrence Yew, photo: ATH/Elizabeth Henderson.