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Wokingham District Veteran Tree Association
10th Anniversary Report

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Wokingham parish boundaries

PARISHES
& TOWNS

invisible Wokingham parish boundaries

Map is adapted from OpenStreetMap, images ©OpenStreetMap contributors, cartography licensed as CC BY-SA.

The recording of Wokingham’s veteran trees was our original aim and remains at the heart of our Association. Here you can find brief information about each parish and town in the Borough together with descriptions of some of their most notable trees.

Arborfield and Newland

Arborfield and Newland parish boundary
Survey statusWell underway
Trees recorded634
English oak57%
Common lime6%
Sweet chestnut5%

The parish is largely rural with areas of ancient and semi-natural woodland such as Hazelton’s Copse, Pound Copse, Long Copse and part of The Coombes, where the trees are included in Tree Preservation Orders. Other wildlife sites include Arbofield Bridge Meadow, the former Bearwood Estate with its woods and lake, part of the Loddon River, Gravel Pit Wood and The Holt. The last of these has two outstanding English oaks (MRN 4900 and MRN 6416).

The parish owns Arborfield Park where in 1998 local groups planted 115 trees. Although a few have been replaced, the majority are flourishing and enhancing the Park for all to enjoy. Bearwood College (now Reddam House) has parkland supporting many fine trees including an avenue of Wellingtonia and a number of entries in the Tree Register of the British Isles (TROBI), including a Lucombe oak (MRN 5611). The College was part of the original Bearwood Estate which has been split up and sold. The trees within the old estate had been surveyed and include the remains of an old orchard.

There are three ancient yews in the churchyard of the ruined St Bartholomew’s church. Two of these (MRN 2395 and MRN 2396) are in the Ancient Yew Register. Close by is a mighty horse chestnut (MRN 5253, 6.4m), thought to be the largest on Reading University land.

Wokingham Lane (a public right of way) forms a boundary with Swallowfield parish. To the south of this byway is the Bound Oak (MRN 4197), probably more than 650 years old. It has been vandalised but still survives. Details of many of these trees may be found on the Arborfield Local History Website.

Hollowed out tree
The Bound Oak, MRN 4197
Lucombe oak
Lucombe oak, MRN 5611
 

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Barkham

Barkham parish boundary
Survey statusComplete
Trees recorded829
English oak39%
Common lime11%
Hawthorn9%

Trees are implied in the very name of the parish, named 'Beorchamme' in 952 AD and interpreted as 'Birch tree meadow' [1]. Much of the parish is rural, comprising pasture, meadow and arable land. Some parts are wet and boggy, cut by ditches and a brook. Veteran willow and alder grow here. The largest alder is a multi-stem (MRN 7107, 6.5m). The fields themselves are bordered by ash and field maples. English oaks grow everywhere.

A distinctive four-line avenue of 88 limes about 400m long was planted for John Walter III of Bear Wood in the winter of 1885-6. The largest girth (MRN 4658, 3.5m) is sadly one of the many trees in the avenue that have fallen in high winds.

Veteran sweet chestnut, silver birch, beech and holly grow in the north of the parish and the wooded south-east area. To the north of Barkham Manor are three magnificent maiden English oaks (MRN 7125, 6.9m; MRN 7128, 6.4m and MRN 7666, 5.2m). All are visible from bridleways and the largest is possibly 550 years old. In the grounds of Barkham Manor is an oriental plane (MRN 1887, 6.7m) which could have been planted in the 17th century.

Large veterans include a beech just on the edge of a golf-course (MRN 7660, 5.7m), a significant holly with eight stems (MRN 7044, 5.2m) and a sweet chestnut on the fringe of the woodland at Foxhill (MRN 3341, 5.8m).

Roadside veteran English oaks are an important feature of the parish and we have found three relic orchards.

We were not granted access to some private land including large woodland areas, but veteran trees including yews have been recorded along footpaths. One of these, the largest in the parish, is a multi-stem (MRN 4906, 4.1m). A wild service tree can also be seen from an intersection of footpaths inside the woods.

In 2016 a new 14.5ha public area, Hazebrook Meadows, was opened and we are now recording the many veteran trees there.

Tree Preservation Orders cover 89 trees, a roadside copse, some trees within the garrison development and all trees within the Coombes.

References

1. GELLING, M 1973 The Place Names of Berkshire part 1 English Place Name Society XLIX, Cambridge

Oriental plane, MRN 1887
English oak, MRN 7666
 

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Charvil

Charvil parish boundary
Survey statusTo be verified
Trees recorded107
English oak53%
Willow21%
Ash9%

Charvil is one of the smallest parishes and stretches from the River Thames in the north to the Loddon in the south. Along the streams and drainage channels are many large willows, for example the crack willow (MRN 3767, 5m). Several of these have been pollarded in the past reflecting an historical osier industry (basket making).

There is a row of large limes alongside the public park next to the village primary school and oak and ash grow in field hedge boundaries and along the older roads of the village, such as Park Lane ( MRN 534 and MRN 544) and Waingels Road (MRN 3799) as well as around the edge of Charvil Meadows (MRN 491).

Crack Willow, MRN 3767
English oak, MRN 3799
 

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Earley

Earley Town boundary
Survey statusComplete
Trees recorded509
English oak57%
Horse Chestnut6%
Ash4%

The name 'Earley' probably derives from the Anglo Saxon – ‘Wood of Eagles’ [1]. From having 100 inhabitants in Domesday times it has now reached over 30,000.

In the 1980s Earley saw a dramatic transition from agricultural countryside to the building of Lower Earley, but lanes have been preserved as footpaths and cycle routes, many of which have their original hedges and trees. Someone had the foresight to retain these important features.

Whiteknights Park, owned by the University of Reading, is one of Earley’s old manors retaining its eclectic collection of trees, some of them exotics, a legacy of landscaping by earlier owners.

The lake and part of the grounds of Maiden Erlegh House [1], demolished in 1960, has ancient woodland and some original parkland trees such as the Holm oak in Crawford Close (MRN 4642) and the stately common lime in Laurel Park (MRN 3386), now over 200 years old. Maiden Erlegh Drive was the original avenue to the House and its largest oak (MRN 5930, 5.5m) is probably over 400 years old, now named the Solly Joel Oak after a former owner of the house. Early maps show the drive as a path cutting through Earley Common so the tree was promoted from a lowly tree on the common to one in an avenue to the big house.

Near Moor Copse are two large oaks (MRN 2814 and MRN 2815). Locally known as the ‘Gemini Oak’, they are unusual in that a branch from one tree has merged with the trunk of its neighbour to form a skewed letter ‘H’.

There are several veteran trees in Redhatch Copse. Its shape has been unchanged for many years, although human infringement has made it very different from the working copse of earlier years filled with wild flowers.

The Loddon floodplain forms part of the southern fringe of Earley and has several veteran trees, mainly English oaks in remnant hedgerows.

References

1. Earley Days, published 2001 Earley Local History Group.

English oak, MRN 5930
Holm oak, MRN 4642

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Finchampstead

Finchampstead parish boundary
Survey statusWell underway
Trees recorded361
English oak50%
Wellingtonia31%
Beech5%

Finchampstead is a parish of two parts. The northern area around California Crossroads is fairly urban but overall it is largely rural with areas of natural heath and woodland including The Ridges, Simons Wood, Wellingtonia Avenue and California Country Park, populated with oak, beech, ash, holly, Scots pine and birch.

The Blackwater River forms the southern boundary of the parish. The extensive gravel extraction here is nearly complete and a new landscape of lakes, grassland and trees is being created, becoming the basis for a new and important nature reserve, managed by the RSPB.

The Conservation Area around St James' Church is home to oak, red oak and yew, including the very large English oak in the churchyard (MRN 3967, 5.7m). The common yew (MRN 3972) is recorded in the Ancient Yew Register. Some of the trees near the church have been planted to commemorate special events such as Queen Victoria's Jubilee. These include a red oak (MRN 3963) planted in 1935 to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George V.

The spectacular Wellingtonia Avenue, planted in 1869 to commemorate the Duke of Wellington, comprises some 100 trees, with a typical girth around 6m. At the top of the avenue there is an excellent view over neighbouring Hampshire to the south from The Ridges.

Three Jubilee oaks were planted in Burnmoor Meadow and the Parish Council has planted a further six trees. Five of these were English oaks and one is a river birch where the ground is very wet. These should form an impressive avenue over the coming years. A number of guided walks can be found on the Finchampstead Parish Council website and more are planned.

 
Wellingtonia Avenue, Finchampstead
English oak, MRN 3967
 

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Hurst

Hurst parish boundary
Survey statusWell underway
Trees recorded182
English oak80%
Ash9%
Willow6%

The parish of St. Nicholas Hurst is the largest parish in the Wokingham Borough. Once part of Windsor Forest, a large proportion of the parish is now open farmland. The River Loddon forms the western parish boundary where old gravel workings are now the lakes of Dinton Pastures Country Park. These lakes, some developed into wildfowl bird sanctuaries and interspersed with heavily wooded areas, form a natural habitat for a wide variety of wildlife and unrestricted tree growth.The wooded areas of the parish are traversed by watercourses, some delineated by large oaks marking ancient field boundaries.

The majority of our surveyed trees are English oaks and relatively few are ash. Many are within the Country Park. The largest English oak found there (MRN 361, 8.2m) is an impressive multi-stem. The rest of the trees are mainly English oaks in hedges and ditches marking present day field boundaries. Many of these are over 5m girth, but the largest maiden (MRN 2163) on the border with Twyford was remeasured in 2016 with a girth of 6.3m, so is possibly 550 years old.

Along Dunt Lane, seven large pollarded white willows have been surveyed (e.g. MRN 1276). The history of Hurst records that as well as making baskets, willow was used for equipment to catch fish.

The churchyard has a large yew (MRN 2680, 4.9m) which is on the Ancient Yew Register. It was estimated to be 370 years old in 1988 by the Conservation Foundation Yew Tree Campaign.

The parish has several private country estates which have yet to be surveyed.

The Hurst Village Society website has a comprehensive illustrated history of Hurst, which includes the very early and changing nature of Windsor Forest, its population, occupations, manors, notable people and houses.

Common yew, MRN 2680
English oak, MRN 361
 

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Remenham

Remenham parish boundary
Survey statusWell underway
Trees recorded145
English oak34%
Horse Chestnut16%
Plane7%

Remenham is home to many fine trees that can be enjoyed from public footpaths running through and alongside farmland, large gardens and the River Thames such as the English oak near Aston (MRN 2781). Another veteran English oak (MRN 1369) growing near a footpath in parkland, has a large amount of burring around the base of the trunk enlarging its girth to 7.2m.

Many private estates have fine specimen trees, some visible from public footpaths. Culham Court has an attractive lime close to the River Thames (MRN 2762) and Park Place has several cedars, including a cedar of Lebanon (MRN 1413, 7.9m) planted by the future George III around 1750, and an English oak standing alone in parkland (MRN 1388, 6.9m), probably over 500 years old.

The Ancient Yew Register has recorded three yew trees in the churchyard of the Parish Church of St Nicholas (MRN 2777, MRN 2778 and MRN 2779), but these have not yet been included in our survey.

English oak, MRN 2781
oak tree in field
English oak, MRN 1369
 

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Ruscombe

Ruscombe parish boundary
Survey statusComplete
Trees recorded124
English oak91%
Ash3%
Field maple2%

Ruscombe is a rural parish most of which is Green Belt including the conservation area around St. James Church. The land has been used for horticulture, orchards and arable crops. Until the First World War, willows were grown for an extensive osier industry. The pattern of fields and landholding is largely unchanged since the 1832 Enclosures and is interspersed with mixed woodlands and small distinctive ponds. Nearly all the entry points to the parish have boundary oaks.

The largest and finest English oak (MRN 2278) on the private Northbury Farm is clearly visible from the road and is probably two merged trees. Stanlake Park is historic parkland with fine scattered veteran oaks (e.g. MRN 2462) and an avenue of limes leading to the house.

The yew (MRN 2277) by the church porch features in Champion Trees of Britain and Ireland: The Tree Register Handbook [1]. It is on the Ancient Yew Register, is classified as ‘ancient’ in the Ancient Tree Hunt and is a Tree Register of the British Isles (TROBI) ‘County Heritage Champion’. A young yew in the churchyard was planted by the Conservation Foundation to commemorate the Millennium.

There has been succession planting of future veterans on the village green, including the young oak next to a stag-headed specimen (MRN 2273).

Common yew, MRN 2277
English oak, MRN 2462

Reference:

1. Champion Trees of Britain and Ireland: The Tree Register Handbook by Owen Johnson.   Published by The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (19 May 2011)

 

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Shinfield

Shinfield parish boundary
Survey statusComplete
Trees recorded1306
English oak59%
Ash13%
Willow5%

More veteran trees have been recorded in Shinfield than in any other parish. Two sets of trees in particular define the parish.

The first is the eighteen pairs of Wellingtonias which form a tall landmark avenue leading to Wellington Court west of Basingstoke Road. They were planted when the Duke of Wellington was given the estate at nearby Stratfield Saye and can be seen from Arborfield, from the M4 west of Reading and from across the Thames valley at Tilehurst. We have recorded these Wellingtonias on our database because they have girths of around 4.5m but they were only introduced into Great Britain in 1853 and so are less than 200 years old, whereas in their native California there are trees over 3000 years old.

The second defining set of trees is an avenue of four rows of oaks which were mentioned by Mary Russell Mitford in the 1830s describing her walks around Three Mile Cross. It is within this established avenue on the hilltop in Spencers Wood that the Wellingtonias were planted. Together the oaks and Wellingtonias are a significant ecological habitat for insects and birds such as nuthatches and tree creepers.

The 'Henry VIII' oak (MRN 432) is the most celebrated veteran English oak in Shinfield. It was specifically protected during the development of the Shinfield Park estate and featured in a Woodland Trust leaflet on protecting trees during development. The Ancient Tree Hunt has classified it as ‘ancient’ and from its girth it was probably growing on the western edge of Windsor Forest at the end of the 15th century.

Shinfield has many significant old coppiced trees including an ash coppice (MRN 2199) in Pearman’s Copse which must be well over 600 years old.

Many veteran willows have been recorded along the banks of ditches and streams. A large number have been pollarded, such as MRN 7194 in Langley Mead, or coppiced, indicating historic use of the young shoots. Alder grows well in damp land and several, including MRN 4968, have been recorded along the banks of the River Loddon. Other major veteran oak, ash and willow trees survive along ancient routes leading south across the parish toward the River Loddon and the Foudry Brook. They now border footpaths, lanes and the two main roads leading south from Reading, Shinfield Road and Basingstoke Road.

Several parish walks leaflets have been published on the parish website and will be revised to include more references to prominent trees. There are also plans to produce tree trails across all areas of the parish showing special trees of importance to the residential areas.

English oak, MRN 432
Crack willow, MRN 7194
 

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Sonning

Sonning parish boundary
Survey statusTo be verified
Trees recorded113
English oak28%
Horse chestnut24%
Common lime16%

Sonning is one of the oldest settlements in the Borough. It is located at the southern end of the Chilterns chalk escarpment on the south bank of the River Thames which forms the long north-west border of the parish. The village is situated on a gentle slope towards the river, with some parts of the central area sited on a low plateau of river gravels.

There are veteran trees in the Reading Blue Coat School grounds and the area of woodland called the Dell alongside the river. Most of the veteran trees surveyed are around the village, many in private gardens.

There are two splendid English oaks (MRN 6658 and MRN 6659) in the open grounds of the Berkshire County Sports Field and more along roadsides such as MRN 3093 on the Old Bath Road. Apart from oaks, the species which predominate are ash, beech, horse chestnut and yew with some good examples of veteran limes (MRN 6680 and MRN 6682) and two Cedars of Lebanon (MRN 6672 and MRN 4757).

Oak in a playing field
English oak, MRN 6658
English oak, MRN 3093
 

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Swallowfield

Swallowfield parish boundary
Survey statusHardly started
Trees recorded238
English oak78%
Horse chestnut4%
Willow4%

The parish of Swallowfield, which now includes the villages of Riseley and Farley Hill, appeared in the Domesday Book. For centuries it has been an area of agricultural and rural life with some large private estates, the most notable of which is Swallowfield Park. John Evelyn, the diarist and tree expert, visited the garden of Swallowfield Park in the late 17th century and admired 'walks and groves of elms, limes, oaks and other trees'.

Within the Park we have recorded over 200 trees. Most of these are English oaks but there are some large old alders and willows along the banks of the Blackwater and Loddon rivers, for example, the crack willow (MRN 4953, 7m).

A significant tree is the large common yew by the porch of All Saints’ Church (MRN 2148), recorded in the Ancient Yew Register. Charles Kingsley’s opinion in 1860 was that the tree might be more ancient than the church, but this is unlikely as the church is thirteenth century and the surveyor in 2011 thought it a much younger tree. Also notable is a very large black poplar hybrid (MRN 5211, 6.9m) in the field close to the entrance to the Park.

We have not yet been able to survey much of the parish, but we believe there are numerous splendid veteran trees, particularly English oaks growing as hedge trees in field hedgerows and specimen trees in parkland areas.

Black poplar hybrid, MRN 5211
Common yew MRN 2148
 

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Twyford

Twyford parish boundary
Survey statusComplete
Trees recorded35
English oak63%
Ash11%
Horse chestnut11%

The parish of Twyford (which means 'two fords') is on an ancient east-west routeway. It is a well developed parish with very little open countryside. The main features are the River Loddon, fed by the Broadwater, and the gravel pits. Fine old oaks survive in the housing estates built during the 1960s and 1970s, including MRN 3527 and MRN 3524, and in an area of woodland close to the south-east parish boundary, MRN 4611 is the largest with a girth of 4.7m and is probably over 250 years old.

Veteran trees can also be found alongside the main railway line including two oaks (MRN 3520 and MRN 4604) inside a woodland belt which may have been planted in the mid eighteenth century and a multi-stem ash (MRN 3522). Close to both branches of the river Loddon and its floodplain are veteran hybrid black poplars and in the churchyard of St Mary’s there are three large horse chestnuts and a sycamore (MRN 3518, 4.4m).

WDVTA Tree Wardens planted disease-resistant elm saplings in Stanlake Meadow and in the park off Malvern Way.

Oak tree
English oak, MRN 3524
Oak tree
English oak, MRN 3527
 

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Wargrave

Wargrave parish boundary
Survey statusWell underway
Trees recorded516
English oak28%
Ash11%
Wellingtonia11%

The parish lies at the meeting point of the old Windsor Forest on clay soils and the Chiltern beech woods on chalk. The entire parish would have been wooded initially: the name derives from 'Weirgrove' - 'weir' (eel trap) and 'grove' (thicket). Now most of the lower land has been cleared for farming.

The River Thames forms the western boundary of the parish, with willow, ash, poplar and alder growing on the low lying marshy area. Ash, sycamore and limes are widespread.

The woodland in the east of the parish is less suitable for farming, mostly privately owned but accessible to the public. There are few veteran trees and most of these are found along boundaries and paths, predominantly English oak, coppiced hazel and ash.

In the farmland area veteran trees have only survived along footpaths and boundaries, some as hedge trees: mostly English oak, ash and crack willow along ditches. One landowner has preserved hedge trees and has planted young specimens within new hedges. Another has planted trees along the Mumbery Hill field boundaries and the A321 to replace older hedges grubbed out in the 1960s.

On Wargrave Marsh the veteran trees are mostly ash, willow and alder.

Unusual specimen trees have been planted in some gardens, and some have survived the selling off of large gardens for housing, as in Bayliss Road. These include a tulip tree, black and white mulberries, oriental plane (MRN 1919), catalpa, smooth Arizona cypress, Lucombe oak, silver maple, sweet chestnut, red horse chestnut and western red cedar.

At Yeldall Manor there is an avenue of 45 Wellingtonias. Although on private land the avenue can be seen from Blake’s Lane.

In the private grounds of the Old Vicarage, is one of the largest veteran sweet chestnuts in the country with a 10.4m girth (MRN 5845). Dating the tree is difficult, but it could be 950 years old which would mean it started growing at the time of the Norman Conquest. Also on private land near the River Loddon is another large veteran, a 7m girth crack willow (MRN 1558).

Distinctive trees with public access include a coppiced ash (MRN 4214) on a footpath between Highgrove Farm and Endalls Farm, a Wellingtonia (MRN 5833) and two Lucombe oaks (MRN 1642 and MRN 5834).

The oaks on field boundaries visible to the public are the most notable. Examples include those along Milley Lane towards Waltham St. Lawrence (e.g. MRN 4286), and those on Highfield Road (MRN 2999MRN 2991 and their neighbours).

Oak tree in hedge
English oak, MRN 4286
Sweet chestnut, MRN 5845
 

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Winnersh

winnersh parish boundary
Survey statusWell underway
Trees recorded324
English oak63%
Ash12%
Field maple5%

The name Winnersh has been in use since the 12th Century and is believed to be derived from 'Winn' (meadows) and 'erch' (stubble fields). Until the 20th century the population was very small and centred on a few small villages. Sindlesham Mill on the river Loddon is marked on Rocque’s 1761 Berkshire map and exists today as part of a public house with a hump-backed bridge over the mill stream and mill stones on display outside the building. Loddon Bridge was an entrance to Windsor Forest in the 1300s and a tollgate in 1759.

With the building of the North Wokingham Distributor Road and new housing very little remains of the fields of Winnersh, but Wokingham Borough Council has done a great deal to protect the hedgerows and trees within them.

WDVTA’s leaflet Bearwood Recreation Ground Tree Walk, describes ten trees on a walk around the park at the Winnersh Community Centre. The trees include a coppiced sweet chestnut, a magnificent oak and felled beech trees which are now a habitat for fungi, possibly stag beetles and other wood decomposers. The walk includes two of the largest trees in the parish, an English oak (MRN 5297) which is possibly 350 years old and a multi-stem sweet chestnut (MRN 5578, 8.3m).

A favourite veteran tree is the one saved by the local community (MRN 6105) in Watmore Lane. A new road would have gone right through this 6m girth English oak, which is possibly over 400 years old, but the plans were changed and the tree saved.

In St. Catherine’s churchyard on Bearwood Road there are two magnificent Atlas cedars (MRN 7549, 8.3m and MRN 7558, 5.7m). Both are county champions on the Tree Register of the British Isles. Four veteran incense cedars grow at the corners of the memorial to the Walter family of Bearwood (MRN 7550, MRN 7551, MRN 7552 and MRN 7553).

The parish has two orchards. One, whose origins are unknown, is next to the garden centre on the B3270/A329, and in the last few years a new orchard has been planted in Winnersh Meadows.

Oak in field
English oak, MRN 5297
multi-stem cedar
Atlas cedar, MRN 7549
 

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Wokingham Town

Wokingham town parish boundary
Survey statusComplete
Trees recorded1275
English oak58%
Sweet chestnut8%
Common lime4%

Wokingham was created as a market town in the 13th century in the Windsor Forest. It has a long agricultural and industrial history, with several large estates around the outskirts. In spite of considerable population expansion it still retains something of its rural character and treescape.

The town has a high density of trees for an urban area. Especially noteworthy are the tree-lined roads into the town. Milton Road and Reading Road have oaks with girths of over 5m (MRN 55 and MRN 177) which could be over 300 years old. Barkham Road and Finchampstead Road are oak-lined with trees 3 to 4.5m in girth. Chestnut Avenue has veteran sweet chestnuts as well as oaks.

On former agricultural land there are many old lanes, public footpaths and bridleways such as Doles Lane. Along these grow hedges of hawthorn, hazel, holly, field maple and cherry plum, as well as substantial hedge trees, mostly of oak or ash. Some farmland remains on the outskirts of the town and here there are isolated oaks as well as old field hedges, again with hedge trees.

In the town centre we have recorded two significant trees which were originally planted in the gardens of large houses. One is a black mulberry (MRN 2039) which is recorded as a county champion for its girth in the Tree Register of the British Isles (TROBI). This was unfortunately felled in 2015 but is now resprouting. The other is an oriental plane (MRN 76), about 250 years old, visible from Waitrose car park. It features in Champion Trees of Britain and Ireland: The Tree Register Handbook [1], and also as a Tree Register of the British Isles (TROBI) county champion for girth and height.

There are several old estates with notable trees, such as St Anne’s Manor, Luckley House School and Cantley Park. There are a number of small parks within the town, many with attractive specimen trees. Langborough Recreation Ground, created in the late 19th century, was planted with limes which still flourish. The largest of these is MRN 600. In Joel Park, adjoining Holt Copse, there are two avenues, one of red oaks and the other of English oaks. Both avenues were planted to celebrate the silver jubilee of King George V in 1935. The more recently created Riverside Walk in Woosehill runs alongside the Emm Brook and a number of large pollarded crack willows, for example MRN 265, grow along the banks of the stream.

Some woodland remains, including Keephatch Wood with a mix of tree species including a coastal redwood (MRN 1468), Holt Copse with many oaks, and Fox Hill woods with over 40 large sweet chestnuts.

The survey was completed in 2011 and in the following year WDVTA published the report Trees in Wokingham Town.

Reference:

1. Champion Trees of Britain and Ireland: The Tree Register Handbook by Owen Johnson.   Published by The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (19 May 2011)

Oriental plane in winter
Oriental plane, MRN 76
Black mulberry, MRN 2039
 

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Wokingham Without

Wokingham Without parish boundary
Survey statusWell underway
Trees recorded257
English oak80%
Beech5%
Common lime4%

The parish is so named because it lies outside the boundary of Wokingham Town. It was created in 1894 when the ancient parish of Wokingham was divided unequally into two. Wokingham Without was the greater, rural part and included Bigshotte Rayles, one of the ancient administrative divisions, or Walkes, of Windsor Forest. The home of the Keeper of Bigshotte Rayles was Bigshotte Lodge, which has since become the site of Ravenswood, a village for disabled people which contains some remarkable veteran trees.

The parish is now defined by two railway lines, on the north and the west, by the London to Silchester Roman Road known as the Devil’s Highway on the south, and by the Old Wokingham Road to Crowthorne on the east. The busy modern route of Nine Mile Ride bisects the parish. This is an acid heath area of pine interspersed with birch, and in nearby Honey Hill some broom-dashers lived and worked by making and selling besoms from birches from Nine Mile Ride.

Wokingham Without’s trees include stands of planted pine managed by The Forestry Commission in Bramshill Forest. There is a large area of modern housing to the south but in parts the semi-rural character of the area has been retained, including some good veteran English oaks. Examples of these are in the parkland once belonging to the former Luckley House; MRN 7370 has a girth of 6.6m and may be close to 500 years old. Another (MRN 7365, 5.2m) is probably over 300 years old.

There are a number of veteran English oaks including two important pollarded examples at Ravenswood Village (MRN 1134 and MRN 1136). The former has a girth of 6.3m and is recorded as ‘ancient’ by the Ancient Tree Hunt and was probably planted in the late fifteenth century. The latter is 5.8m in girth and may well have started growing in the mid-sixteenth century.

Other distinctive veteran trees at Ravenswood include two veteran sweet chestnuts (MRN 1144 and MRN 1145). The latter is 6.6m in girth, probably over 450 years old, and recorded as an ‘ancient’ tree by the Ancient Tree Hunt. Finally, there is a veteran of a less common species, a purple sycamore (MRN 1142).

Elsewhere, on the edge of a three square mile block of heath and bog around Heath Pool is a multi-stem sweet chestnut (MRN 2804, 4.4m).

Trees in the Edgcumbe Park estate were covered by a Tree Preservation Order prior to development so many trees were retained. They include a red oak in Heathermount Drive (MRN 1993).

There are also significant trees at Bigshotte Park (e.g. MRN 5120) and Oaklands Lane. The Pinewood Centre (accessed from Old Wokingham Road) has some mixed woodland, but still retains some stands of those pinewoods which were the reason for the sanatorium being sited here by the Brompton Hospital at the beginning of the nineteenth century and its old orchard has recently been replanted as a new community orchard.

Heavily pruned oak
English oak, MRN 1134
English oak, MRN 7370
 

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Woodley

Woodley parish boundary
Survey statusWell underway
Trees recorded186
English oak42%
Ash16%
Willow9%

Eighteenth century maps of the area show a rural landscape with just a scattering of houses. Bulmarsh Heath covered a large part of what is now Woodley, along with Hadleigh Heath and Colemans Moor. There has been a lot of building since then but Woodley still has some unexpected wild corners.

There are pockets of ancient woodland at Aldermoors and Sandford Mill Copse, including the unusually shaped oak MRN 7445. Part of the arboretum planted in the grounds of Woodley Lodge in Victorian times can still be found at High Wood and round South Lake, including two common beeches ( MRN 7743 and MRN 1579).

There are many highly visible roadside trees in Loddon Bridge Road, Butts Hill Road, Crockhamwell Road and Colemansmoor Road, for example MRN 7853. Many are too young to have been recorded.

There are ‘near veterans’ along Waingels Road and Western Avenue, as well as a group on Beechwood Avenue, the trees around the industrial area by the Just Tiles roundabout and the limes outside the church. Let’s hope these all survive to become veterans in the next decade or two.

As well as the English oaks, we have also recorded a number of ash, alders, willows and redwoods.

The 30 narrow-leaved ash trees along Mohawk Way were an inspired planting giving a glorious autumn display of maroon leaves with golden undertones. The trees are big enough now to make a good show but as they grow it will only get better. This was an inspired choice which will give pleasure to local residents for decades to come.

Beech, MRN 7743
English oak, MRN 7445
 

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