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Downton reveals national treasures

Two trees of national importance have been discovered at Downton Castle, a private estate in Herefordshire. The ancient broad leaved limes are so rare, similar trees have only been found in one other estate.

The Herefordshire Parklands Project recorded many remarkable trees during three years of surveys, thanks to the many landowners who generously gave permission for volunteers to access, previously private estates, to assess the quality of their trees. Prolific Ancient Tree Verifier, Brian Jones, was one of those who enjoyed such privileged access to the Downton Castle estate. Here, for the first time, two ancient Broad-leaved Lime (Tilia platyphyllos) were discovered. Only in Moccas Park, also in Herefordshire, have trees similar to these been recorded.

Dr Owen Johnson, the Registrar for the Tree Register of the British Isles said, “Wild limes, fantastically gnarled and hollow, are the biggest and oldest trees in many European countries. None in Britain quite like this were known until Brian, with Tim Epps, recorded these two Broad-leaved Limes together in a field under Hunston Hill on the Downton Castle estate in Herefordshire. Their hollow boles are reduced to fragments and both remnants are 9m round.”