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Trees are an important and valuable part of the landscape. Many of our trees are of extra special significance. This may be because they are very old, even ancient, perhaps standing in a woodland, parkland or hedgerow. It could be that they have a known link to our historical past, as have the Mulberry tree in the grounds of Wakefield Prison, the ‘Armarda Oaks’ at Castle Howard or the Cherry Tree at Studley Royal.
Others are special because they were planted to commemorate a special event, or they are rare or unusual specimens.
In one of the yards at Wakefield prison is a Mulberry Tree that is thought to be over 250 years old. This tree is thought to be the one that is in the nursery rhyme, ‘Here we go round the Mulberry Bush’.
The rhyme started as a children’s game invented by washerwomen to amuse and teach their children. The first version was probably called ‘Here we go round the Bramble Bush’ which was chanted by children in Yorkshire in the mid 18th century as they danced round one child who was the ‘Bramble Bush’. At some stage the ‘Bramble Bush’ would jump up and chase the other children, if one of the others was caught then he or she would become the ‘Bramble Bush’ and the whole game would begin again.
In the 1750’s (mid 18th century) Wakefield Jail had both women and child prisoners, and since the Mulberry Bush was in the grounds the rhyme was changed to suit the Caption to Mulberry Bush location.
Does anyone know any verses that were sung or chanted?
This oak tree is probably over 500 years old, it has lost its top and many of its great branches, but it is still alive and living in the car park at Castle Howard. There are eleven other oaks of a similar age in the car park and it is said that they were planted at the time of the ‘Spanish Armada’.
Grid Ref: 711699
The tree looks like one of the ‘Ents’ in Tolkein’s ‘Lord of the Rings’, the trees that helped the Hobbits and their friends.
If this old tree could tell a story, what do you think it would say? Could you write a story for the tree?
The Juniper is not very big, not particularly beautiful, and we don’t know any stories about this one, but we think it’s a great tree because it is quite rare on the North Yorkshire Moors. There used to be many juniper trees, but moorland fires have destroyed them, and sheep, rabbits and deer, have eaten the young seedlings.
Grid Ref: 655074
Four schools in North Yorkshire are helping to save the juniper by collecting the seed to send to a nursery where the nursery man grows the seeds into tiny trees. He then sends these to the schools to plant out in the hills. The schools have to protect the small trees from rabbits, sheep and deer by fencing off the plots where they have planted them, and providing them with guards that fit round them and protect them until they can survive without help.
Thought to be 350 years old. The surviving one of a pair planted at the same time. Until October 2002 this was thought to be the oldest tree on Leeds City Council property.
Local folk lore says that the trees were planted as a memorial to two still born infants. This would suggest that the parents were connected in some way to Temple Newsam.
Grid Ref: SE357323
In October 2002, these English Oaks were viewed by Ted Green MBE (founder of the Ancient Tree Forum and Britain’s best known champion of ancient trees).
Both Ted and other experts present agreed that these old pollards would have worked by the medieval villagers of Colton, to provide firewood, fencing and building materials etc.
This judgement would make the trees at least 600 years old and the oldest on Leeds City property.
Grid Ref: SE365323 - On the site of the deserted medieval village of Colton (Scheduled Ancient Monument).
The Laund Oak – just by Laund House on the back road to Barden Bridge and Storiths.
This spectacular tree is over 800 years old. It is thought to have been named after John of Laund who was the Prior from 1286 to 1330. In the 16th century the Laund Oak marked the point where the Forests of Barden and Knaresborough met.
The foresters on the Estate say this wonderful old tree produces some of the best acorns which grow into fine trees.
Grid Ref: 57562(OS Outdoor Leisure series York South).
Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa)
Close up of the base of the above
Grid Ref: 286698 (OS Expl.299) Studley Royal
This, the largest wild cherry in Britain, measures 5.7 metres in girth and grows in the landscaped gardens of Studley Royal, the setting for the famous 12th century Fountains Abbey ruins and now a World Heritage Site.
Grid Ref: 281697