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St Jude’s fells Wells tree

01 November 2013

by a staff reporter


Brought to earth: the snapped Tree of Heaven, planted in 1885, at the Bishop's Palace in Wells

Brought to earth: the snapped Tree of Heaven, planted in 1885, at the Bishop's Palace in Wells

INSURERS are assessing damage to about 40 churches after the St Jude's Storm, which swept across southern England this week.

Ecclesiastical Insurance said that it had received notifications of damage from C of E, Baptist, and Methodist churches, which were now being assessed. Most of the damage is thought to be to church roofs - including serious damage to Orford Methodist Chapel in Suffolk, where a concrete pinnacle fell from the roof, leaving a gaping hole behind.

The St Jude's Storm swept in across the Atlantic early on Monday morning, causing four deaths and widespread traffic chaos, as hundreds of fallen trees blocked roads and railway lines.

One of the historic trees felled in the high winds was the 128-year-old "Tree of Heaven" in the Bishop's Palace in Wells, Somerset. The head gardener, James Cross, said: "It's incredible to see how the base of the trunk has snapped. We've got a good view of a hollow interior and some rotten sections; so we're feeling relieved no one was in the area at the time.

"Once we have cleared up, we will plant a semi-mature Tree of Heaven to replace it, and it will take about 100 more years for it to grow to the size of this one. As the Tree of Heaven crashed down, it sadly destroyed part of a neighbouring mulberry tree that was planted in 1897; so we will have to remove that, too, and replace it."

The storm has been named in the UK after St Jude the Apostle, patron saint of hopeless causes and desperate cases, whose feast day fell on Monday, jointly with that of StSimon.

The storm has gained other names as it tracked across Europe. European storms used to be named, officially, after the person who first spotted them, but today's names are chosen by individuals using a scheme operated by the Institute of Meteorology of the Free University of Berlin. Anyone can pay €299 (£255) to name a high-pressureweather system, or €199 for a low-pressure one. Names alternate each year between male and female, and are pickedby lottery.

Monday's storm is being called the Christian storm by EU institutions, named after Christian Widera. But other countries have picked other names: Sweden has chosen Simone, and the European Windstorm Centre has called it Carmen.

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