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Propagating oaks that met King John

800 years ago King John liked to call meetings at important trees; these were ‘parleys’ – the precursor to parliaments. The most famous tree, the Parliament Oak in Sherwood Forest is testament to this. Now this tree along with the King John Oak which stands in Woodend Park, Shute in Devon will be propagated to save their very special genes.

To propagate their distinct genes, an expert volunteer – Pete Wells, has taken cuttings from both trees and grafted them onto oakling stock, grown from acorns collected from the Major Oak in Sherwood. A successful oakling will be given to each of 12 out of the 25 Baron Towns. The Twenty Five were a group of barons in the forefront of the opposition to King John who were entrusted by the terms of clause 61 of Magna Carta to ensure the king’s compliance with its terms.

The King John Oak is on private land but you can see look at images and see its location from its tree record. The Parliament Oak is managed by Sherwood Forest Trust and stands close to the road to the west of Edwinstowe on the road to Mansfield.

Pete Wells, a retired nurseryman, visited both the King John Oak and the Parliament Oak during February and March 2015 to collect cuttings. He also travelled to HM Prison Hatfield to collect the oaklings grown by the staff and inmates from acorns collected from the Major Oak in autumn 2013. The Prison is one of several that are growing seed from many ancient trees around the country to provide stock for special events such as this. We are most grateful to Pete Wells and to the Ministry of Justice for their help in this work.