May 21, 2024

South West News

South West News from Gloucestershire to Cornwall

Ancient Twisted Beech tree at Tehidy receives prestigious accolade for Queen’s Jubilee celebrations

A distinctive twisted beech tree in Tehidy Country Park has been named as part of a UK-wide network of 70 ancient trees and woodlands being dedicated to the Queen in celebration of the Platinum Jubilee.

The well-known tree that dates back to 1788 has been chosen as part of an Ancient Canopy announced by Prince Charles who is Patron of the Queen’s Green Canopy to celebrate Her Majesty’s 70 years of service.

The initiative aims to share the stories behind the ancient woodlands and trees, as well as the efforts that are made to protect them, in a bid to preserve the precious habitats for future generations.

Councillor Martyn Alvey, cabinet member for environment and climate change for Cornwall Council which owns and manages Tehidy Country Park, said: “The Twisted Beech at Tehidy is a tree of note which one and all can seek out and enjoy – it is well-known within the community and holds a special place in the memories of many people who have visited Tehidy over the years.

“We are delighted that the tree has made it through to the prestigious list of 70 trees and 70 woodlands making up the Ancient Canopy dedicated to the Queen for her Platinum Jubilee.

“We want to celebrate our Twisted Beech to inspire others about the benefits of retaining ancient trees in our landscape for wildlife, people and absorbing carbon emissions and to educate people about how to care for older trees.

“This goes alongside our Forest for Cornwall aims to support our communities in planting more trees and hedgerows to help Cornwall become carbon neutral.”

The Twisted Beech at Tehidy Country Park is familiar to generations of walkers in the woods because of the tree’s striking twisted trunk.

It is known to be more than 230 years old, appearing on a map of the Tehidy Estate from 1788 when its famous owners the Basset family were experiencing a surge in wealth through their connection with the booming tin mining industry. 

By the time the Twisted Beech was a young sapling Francis Basset was planting up the woods to create a ‘picturesque parkland’ and pleasure ground for the estate and it is believed the Twisted Beech was deliberately planted or preserved as a special specimen.

No one knows why the tree takes its twisted form, but one theory is that as it grew up the other trees around it forced it to twist to reach the light. Other theories are that there is something in the roots which makes it twist or that it was trained through an ancient gardening technique to twist.

The Twisted Beech now hosts a plethora of wildlife with its gnarled bark and branches creating homes for insects, bats and epiphytes.

It was used as inspiration in poetry workshops led by the Poetry Society as part of an initiative to raise awareness of the Great Trees of Cornwall campaign in 2019.

The tree is also listed in the Woodland Trust’s Ancient Tree Inventory.

Illogan Cornwall Councillor Dave Crabtree said: “After admiring this tree for the past 20 years it came as a big surprise to hear that this tree in the middle of Tehidy Woods in Cornwall was one of 70 throughout the whole country that was included within the Ancient Canopy. This tree appears to have been planted in the reign of George III and I hope that it will continue to flourish for centuries to come.”

To mark the launch of the Ancient Canopy, Prince Charles said in a video message: “These working woodlands and magnificent trees span our nation’s amazing landscape and exist for everyone to enjoy.

“Trees and woodlands have a profound significance for us all – their steadfast and reassuring presence a reminder of our long serving Sovereign and her enduring dedication.”

Cornwall Council’s countryside team is hosting a free tree walk at Tehidy Country Park featuring the Twisted Beech on May 13 at 1pm. Register for a place beforehand.

Find more inspiration about tree-planting at Forest for Cornwall.

Story posted on May 4, 2022