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Trees and Hedges

Trees

In a rural landscape trees have always been important markers and feature in people’s accounts of their lives in the village. Tree Cottage, for example, had an old tree near the gate which was hollow and was used as a village notice board. The children also used it for hiding in. It was the place designated for meeting the evacuees from London at the beginning of the second world war and Helena Deneke describes it as a ‘trysting place’.

King Charles Oak
King Charles Oak

Scoring a six in cricket when the village team was playing in Home Close was marked by hitting the ball beyond the horsechestnut. An old oak marks the path down to Woodeaton and what until 1991 was the parish boundary. This is often called the ‘King Charles Oak’ and in November 2008 the village held a competition to guess the age of the tree. When the oak was measured its girth was found to be 5m. 25 cm. so using Forestry Commission guidelines we calculated it was 334 years old (dating to 1674 when Charles II was on the throne.)

The Women’s Institute banner embroidered in 1920 shows elm trees, because it is a feature of the village. Their explanation for the logo embroidered on the banner is ‘that Elsfield is a hill -top crowned with elm trees and with a rookery’.

Under Elms
Under Elms
The elm trees in question lined either side of the road from Home Close to the end of the village in front of Forest Farm. This stretch of road was known as ‘Under Elms’. It had claimed one victim, who was killed in the mid 1920s by a branch falling off as he cycled under the trees. A stone in the banking opposite Post Box Cottages is reputed to mark the place where he was fatally injured. The trees themselves fell victim to Dutch Elm disease in the 1970s and were cut down. The tree stumps can still be seen in some places, and new growth keeps sprouting from the bases, but succumbs to the same disease when it attains a reasonable height. The trunks of the elms along the verge from Country View to Rose Cottage were up to 5 ft in diameter. Smaller trees growing as suckers from the originals grew to be quite substantial: 6 to 9 inches in . diameter but then died. Nich Butler, who has lived in Elsfield since the 1970s, cut them down and sprayed the re-growth.



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