Queen Elizabeth's Oak, Greenwich Park

Queen Elizabeth's Oak was a veteran oak tree in Greenwich Park, London. Seeded in the 12th century, the tree formed part of the grounds of the Palace of Placentia, home to the Tudor royal family. Henry VIII is said to have danced around the tree with Anne Boleyn. Their daughter Elizabeth I, after whom the tree is named, is said to have picnicked beneath its canopy, or else within its hollow trunk. When the palace grounds became Greenwich Park, the hollow tree was used as a prison for criminals caught on the grounds. The tree died in the 19th century but was left standing, partly supported by ivy. It fell in a storm in June 1991 and has been left lying where it fell, protected by a fence and marked with a plaque.

Queen Elizabeth's Oak
The fallen tree photographed in 2011
The fallen tree photographed in 2011
SpeciesOak (Quercus)
LocationGreenwich Park, London
Coordinates51°28′41″N 0°00′06″E / 51.478104°N 0.001764°E / 51.478104; 0.001764
Date seeded12th century
Date felled1991 (storm)

Royal connection edit

The oak is thought to date from the 12th century and was incorporated into the grounds of the Tudor Palace of Placentia.[1][2] The palace was the birthplace of Henry VIII (1491) as well as his daughters Mary (1516) and Elizabeth (1533).[2][3] The palace was one of Henry's favourite places; he spent much time in its grounds and is said to have danced around the tree with Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth's mother.[2][4] Elizabeth spent some of her childhood at the palace and is said to have picnicked under the tree, or by some accounts, within its hollow trunk.[4][5]

Prison edit

The palace was later abandoned by the royal family and it became the site of the Greenwich Naval Hospital and the Royal Naval College; part of the grounds became Greenwich Park.[2] A park keeper's lodge was erected near to the tree in the 17th century and was demolished in 1853.[6] The tree's hollow trunk was used as a prison for criminals caught within the park, who were secured behind a heavy wooden door which covered the 6-foot (1.8 m) diameter hole in the trunk.[5][7]

Death and commemoration edit

Queen Elizabeth's Oak had died by the 1870s.[1][8] The tree was left standing as dead wood, partly supported by a large growth of ivy.[1][5] The tree was a 20-foot (6.1 m) stump by 1979 and fell during a storm in June 1991.[3][4][9] The dead tree was left lying on the ground.[4] A replacement oak tree, donated by the Greenwich Historical Society, was planted by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on 3 December 1992 to mark the Ruby Jubilee of Elizabeth II.[3][4] The site is marked by a plaque and both the fallen tree and its replacement are protected from damage by a metal railing fence.[3]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c Ramzan, David C. (2019). Greenwich History Tour. Amberley Publishing Limited. p. 48. ISBN 978-1-4456-9291-3.
  2. ^ a b c d "Greenwich Palace and the Tudors". Royal Museums Greenwich. 31 January 2020. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d "Queen Elizabeth's Oak: a tree of legend". Royal Museums Greenwich. 9 November 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e Lewis-Stempel, John (2018). The Glorious Life of the Oak. Transworld. p. 68. ISBN 978-1-4735-5862-5.
  5. ^ a b c Amherst, Alicia (2014). London Parks and Gardens. Cambridge University Press. p. 110. ISBN 978-1-108-07599-2.
  6. ^ Ramzan, David C. (2019). A-Z of Greenwich: Places-People-History. Amberley Publishing Limited. p. 98. ISBN 978-1-4456-8908-1.
  7. ^ Ramzan, David C. (2017). Secret Greenwich. Amberley Publishing Limited. p. 26. ISBN 978-1-4456-7511-4.
  8. ^ Wilks, James Howard (1972). Trees of the British Isles in History & Legend. Muller. p. 197. ISBN 9780584103113.
  9. ^ Automobile Association (1979). The book of London. Automobile Association. p. 143. ISBN 9780861451098.