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'Prince William of Orange' oak at Teigngrace under threat

One of Devon’s oldest oaks – the Prince William of Orange oak at Teigngrace - is suffering and faces an uncertain future, according to local ATH recorder Spencer Keys.

'Prince William of Orange' oak, Teigngrace, Devon

The tree’s historical association with William of Orange is based on the story that the Dutch prince stopped at the spot on his way to claim the throne in London after landing at Brixham near Torbay in November 1688.

In recent years the tree, which is 9.5 metres in girth, has hosted a colony of wild bees in a cavity, however the oak’s proximity to the road - a large limb is regularly grazed by high-sided vehicles - and regular winter road salting may all be taking their toll on this venerable specimen.

'Prince William of Orange' oak, Teigngrace, Devon

Approximately two years ago highway safety work was carried out but retrenchment has been very slow since and local observers are concerned. Moreover, according to Spencer Keys, a number of mains trenches were dug near the tree in the 1920s and 30s, and in 2006 yet another mains trench was laid nearby – all potentially encroaching on the tree’s root system.

'Prince William of Orange' oak, Teigngrace, Devon

Spencer told us, “I am quite upset hearing of this magnificent tree’s history. I have come to ancient trees (in the UK), very late, having spent the best part of 35 years campaigning for the planting of trees and forests worldwide, not paying much attention to those ecological masterpieces on my doorstep. But, when I hear stories like this, the oak at Teigngrace, I am appalled… thank goodness for the Ancient Tree Forum and the Ancient Tree Hunt.”

Spencer is coordinating an inspection meeting with local parish councillors and Chris Knapman from the Ancient Tree Forum in Devon in early 2013.

Other veteran and important trees nearby are also being inspected.