Sunday, 9 October 2016

The Remarkable Oak Tree and the Alderman


Nothing scary about this photograph,  the ghostly forms are simply raindrops on the camera lens.      I wanted to get a photograph of this particular tree, though, so I nipped out of the car to get one.   I sank up to my oxters in mud, but at least I got the shot!

It is an oak tree, a most remarkable oak tree, because it is reputed to be over a thousand years old.   In 1841 it was measured as having a trunk circumference of 33' with the trunk being a mere shell, yet here it still is, almost two hundred years later.  

Even the earliest Ordnance Survey maps had it shown as  'Remarkable Oak', so safe to say, it is an ancient oak and has been witness to great changes since it was a sapling.   They reckon that oak trees grow rapidly for the first 120 years, not producing acorns until they are about 40 years old, and continue to grow until they are about 300 years old.

They mature for another 300 years and then gradually decay for 300 years, or more, as in this case.  It is a truly ancient oak, that's for sure.

Moving on, I visited a small country church dedicated to St Oswald.



There has been a church here for over 800 years, although this is the 1856 restored church, which retains some interesting earlier windows and monuments.      The restoration and rebuilding cost £500, with another £400 being spent  a couple of decades later on restoring the chancel.




This monument got my attention - it is fairly high up on the wall, so difficult to take a good photograph.

It portrays a family group.   The man is William Ballett who was an Alderman of London.    Facing him are his two wives and above them, their nine children.    He died when he was 99 years of age, in 1648.    Remarkable, when you think that in those days the average expected lifespan was about 40 years!


This long-lived man lived just a few miles from this church, at Woodthorpe Hall, which is located right next to the field in which the Remarkable Oak is located!   He and his family could well have sat in the shade of this tree, which would simply have been in its' mature stage at that time.  Could there be something in the water around there, I wonder.



There are lots more interesting snippets about the church and the people who used it, which I'll share another time.

12 comments:

  1. I've seen a coupe or decaying oaks in Sumerset at a caravan site I sayed at, they were reconed to be nigh on 1000 years old. Very nice curch and from the look churchyard. Impressive memorial though I can only see six kids though his two wives are obvious, did he marry twice then? Most of the meorials I've see have the boys one side & girls the other. Must say the colours have stood the test of time well. PS I uses a tripod for my photos.

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    1. Hello Bill, Funny you should say that - a few hundred yards away, across the road from Woodthorpe Hall, there is a caravanning, fishing, golfing site! I tried to do some research on the Alderman before I posted but couldn't glean much more than I got from the church. Yes, he married twice. I can see seven children (there is a small one tucked in between the two larger ones) - I wonder whether the other two could be on the other side of the monument, facing them - the girls, perhaps? The church was busy with visitors on the day i went (Heritage Day) so it made taking photographs very tricky. I do have a tripod, but never think to use it. I shall give it a go - and thank you.

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  2. That oak has got some girth - it's lovely. I can imagine William Ballett and his brood having a picnic underneath it. We had an old blokie living around here too - Thomas Parr - if you have time and type in Old Parr, it will tell you all about him. His cottage (restored now) is just across the field from where I live. He lived until he was 150 - must be the air!

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    1. Hello Molly, That is exactly the image I conjured up, too! I hope they were a happy bunch and had fun like that, anyway. I find it mind-boggling to think of all that has happened while that mighty oak has been standing in the field. There is an old wartime aerodrome right behind, so it hasn't always been peaceful. I'll nip off now and check out Thomas Parr. Thanks, Molly.

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  3. Thomas Parr is a better link

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    1. I spent a happy half hour browsing around and reading about him. Thanks, Molly. What a story!

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  4. A majestic oak. curious to think how old it is and who might have rested in its shade. And another of your beautiful old churches. Love English history, especially when it is in this state and you can appreciate its story

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    1. Hello Linda, I had driven past that tree many, many times before I saw it marked on a map as 'Remarkable Oak' - that was it, I had to find out why it was considered to be so. Mind-boggling, the things it has stood through! When I found the monument and was able to link it back to William Ballett and his family it was very exciting.

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  5. Don't laugh, but I had to look up "oxters". Lovely stone and brick work on the church...

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    1. Hello Meggie, The old church fell down during renovations, just as they were taking off the roof...oops! That was why they had to do the rebuild instead. As for oxters, well sometimes I like to play about with old words which don't get used a great deal!

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  6. What a beautiful little Church.
    Oak trees are wonderful trees, my favourite by far. So much history in their long lifetime.

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    1. Hello Prunella, They are wonderful, and so important to our wildlife. Imagine all the insects which have lived in the tree (I think I read something about 200 different species use the oak) the birds and bats which will have sheltered/lived there and the animals which may have eaten the acorns... it gets more remarkable by the moment!

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