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Tree of the month: The Hunting Gate Oak

Volunteer Alan Hunton headed to Moss Carrs Farm, York Road, Bickerton, to verify an oak, recorded on the ATI website by the landowner. Alan was warmly met by farmer Bernard Atkinson, who gave permission to visit the tree and shared some valuable information with Alan.

The oak is on the boundary of two farms, a low wooden fence runs up to the tree and marks the place where the local hunt crossed from one property to the next, hence the name for the tree.

Not only did this turn out to be a characterful and clearly much loved ancient tree but Alan learnt of another, more recent, historical tree nearby, which he was also able to record. A much younger oak, in itself not unusual but with a most interesting history as Bernard explained.

It was high 'pollarded' in 1943 by a Handley Page Halifax bomber. The plane was returning from a training mission from the west, flew extremely low over Moss Carrs farm and clipped the tree before crashing into the next field. Sadly, the pilots were killed attempting to reach Marston Moor airfield, just over 2 miles distant. Another interesting fact (but unrelated to the tree) is that the actor Clark Gable was stationed at Marston Moor at that time!

It is with grateful thanks to Bernard Atkinson for this valuable information and whose father was nearby on the night of the crash.

And, thanks to Alan’s visit, the trees and their stories have now become part of our tree heritage recorded on the ATI.