Archive for the ‘Historic trees’ Category

This post is an  experiment and example of how to  integrate and using the new collaborative pastorm site with your posts/ and sites


Back to a good old fashioned micro explore on Timehikes, and it doesn’t get more micro than the local housing estate; Leyfield’s and more precisely Wigginton parks whose  regal history was talked about in the post series before suburbia. For a fantastic blog on Housing estates in London there’s Love London council housing.  There’s nothing as architecturally interesting around here in the housing estates, but who knows if you look hard enough and ask the right questions…

For now back to Wiggington park. After a quick wander around the local park.( Couldn’t really go further in the sweltering heat) came upon a line of bricks poking through the leaf litter on the floor. With the frustrated archaeologist within me in full force, I proceeded to clear with a stick the surrounding foliage in a couple of minutes. The results are in the following photo.

Hmm, what is it? The bricks have mortar between them and looks the part so probably some type of structure and not just bricks thrown in. The bricks look ‘pretty old’ Quick note anyone who wants to know more about  reading the history of buildings in England, needs to know a lot about bricks, more bricks and more bricks! My first thought or hope was that it was the remains of the gate lodge at the entrance to the old Wigginton hall estate. Time to check out the maps:

1899-1904 ordnance map from Staffordshire past track(click to go to site)

Wrong location so after discarding  the lodge option started thinking that it could be some sort of culvert. The bricks are set into a ridge could it follow on from the stream that curves round the western edge of Wigginton park?

A look at the 1887 map gives another possibility. Is that a structure leading off from  the lodge? Anyone out there who can read what that curved dash along the square  means?

1884-1885 ordnance map from oldmaps.co.uk, click on image to go to site.

As so often when looking for something on historic maps you notice other features of interest. Note the well marked with a ‘w’ next to the lodge. Also the long sliver of a pond  little further up. Explains why that spot becomes a muddy mire after a little rainfall. A pond trying to resurrect itself, it will win in the end! Could the pond have something to do with the brick structure? I’m still leaning towards the idea of a culvert, but as usual more questions than answers.

Ending the post with a photo taken on same walk  of a  stately Beech tree in Wigginton park, notice the likely ridge and furrow surrounding it.

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A single oak tree

Spring has started so fitting to go back and renew  this blog which I´ve abandoned over the last few weeks.

continuing with the very delayed  ancient tree series on Tamworth, came along what must be one of the oldest trees in the area. An oak tree well hidden among a hedge between the river Anker and the Ashby road. With age it´s shrunk and taken on a hermit like existence alone among a hedgerow crouching even further down to avoid passersby.

the tree in question on top right, mimicing the surrounding hedge.

I interrupted on its solitude last Summer finding it after scouring the usual 1899 maps from Staffordshire past track. The surveyors  had even gone to the trouble to include notable trees in the area marking a handful of elm and oak trees in this area.  Trees marked would have considerable age or be distinctive in some way so any survivors to the present day warrant  at least a passing  look.

1899-1904 ordnance map from Staffordshire past track showing the oak and now disappeared  elm trees

The oak is the only survivor I could find in the area from the 1899 maps. It´s in bad shape, looks like it might have weathered more than a few storms. Its advanced state of disrepair, trunk mummified in ivy only adds to it´s potential age, although on the other hand it´s trunk isn´t the widest and it´s lost it´s crown so it´s not the largest oak around. It looks like it hasn´t been looked after by humans for a while at least. Oaks on average can live to around 300 years how old without coppicing . How old was this one? Was it around when the Earl of Richford´s forces passed nearby to the battle of Bosworth 1485?  hmmm don´t think so but gives me a chance to include random image of King Richard III.

If I´d known about the hugging technique to age trees well that might have solved the oak´s age there and then. Intrigued well look at this manual from the Woodlands trust.

On the subject of manuals

In a constant search to give this space meaning I´m going from now on to put an emphasis on providing  ideas, different ways of looking at our surroundings and knowledge/tools on how to explore, , interact, discover and ultimately enjoy landscape history both rural, urban and in between  in England, using Tamworth as an example of course.

That’s a pretty big benchmark and would be fantastic to hear from other budding amateur landscape historians, artists, canoeists, dog walkers, tree huggers, archaeologists on the different ways  and takes to do this.

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On my search for ancient and venerable trees in the Tamworth area I came along this from the endless resource of Charles Ferrers Raymund Palmer´s book on Tamworth. When Charles focused on a building, boy did he focus on it, his writings on the Moathouse throw up all sorts of info as if gone through with a comb. About the trees in the long drive he´s got this to say:

“The moat house is a very large and handsome structure,……………It is approached from Lichfield street through a long avenue of noble lime-trees, of more than a century´s growth.”

The mentioned lime trees are still there and if we go by the tree´s estimated age written by Charles in 1845 that makes the trees more than 275 years old!!

The moathouse with Lime trees on either side

Knowing little about  trees I quickly googled info on Lime trees and found out that they´ve got nothing to do with limes, can indeed be very old, and you can use the flowers to make a tea for medicinal purposes, old flowers apparently having narcotic effects hmmm, interesting. The idea of using the fruits from a 270 year old tree sounds appealing to me, actually the whole idea of drinking something with great age is appealing although not the same check this out about oldest champagne found and tasted.

Anyway to know more on Lime trees known as well as tilia(the genera) take a look at this and this.

a lime tree(tillus) image with details, click to go to the link

I´m in Tamworth so will duly insert some photos of the brooding moathouse expertly framed by the Lime trees, shame I´m not the best photographer in the world, but just maybe, maybe this once.. Watch this space.

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Adding trees

A number of factors have induced me  to write this new series adding trees, especially old trees to the Timehikes blog(might even get round to adding people at some point!).

Firstly the Government crazy woodland sell off and the campaign to stop it, there´s been loads of really good arguments against it, for example Outlandish Knights blogs entry and Brownhill Bobs view on  it here on the sell off.  I haven´t got much to add, just a paranoid observation from the truncated world of Tamworth Timehikes that  the recent government´s backtracking  got me thinking that this maybe was the half-baked schemes real aim. They didn´t really think that it would work did they without huge opposition  ? Maybe it was to look like the government was ´listening´ to the people on this high-profile case, a sort of smokescreen.  Maybe I´m giving them too much credit..

Then there´s a series of post´s on Brownhills bobs blog, about the Shire oak tree, an ancient emblematic  tree that once stood in the  Stonnal area which exemplies to me  what collaborative history detective work could really do for a place, uncover, enrich with stories and memories.

Also I´ve been wanting to put a tree themed post about this for a long time.  I´m rubbish at identifying trees, get the names mixed up but I recognise trees, especially old trees are very special awe inspiring living things, unique ecological niches . There´s a great citizen science project called the Ancient tree hunt from the The Woodlands Trust, worth taking a look at.

Finally recently saw  this article in the herald about the history of Gungate road formerly known as Old Stony road. In a great bit of detective work  from Paul Barber and the article’s author(can´t find the name in the article)they recognised that a beech tree in an 1829 engraving incredibly survives till today.

This serves as a perfect introduction to ancient trees in the Tamworth area. All credit I stress for the discovery goes to the authors of the Herald article. I´m just adding the pretty pictures.

Taken from Staffordshire past track. the Engraving mentioned from 1828-29 from E.B Hamel, north view of Tamworth from Gungate. The Beech tree is on the left. In true  romantic style the scene has been given a bit of drama by enlarging the church and castle complete with fluttering flag. With some added farmer folk in the forground.

The contemporary 2010 scene, courtesy of the google streetmap car.  The Tall copper beech tree is still there on the left in the garden of Mayfield house, on the corner of croft street.  The tree´s got bigger, while the church has got smaller!

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