THE Woodland Trust’s shortlist of candidates for Tree of the Year 2020 in England includes two churchyard yews and a beech tree growing in place of an altar in a ruined abbey.
The yew at Wilmington, East Sussex, is estimated to be 1600 years old, and thus predates the existing church of St Mary and St Peter by several hundred years. It is now supported by wooden props and a chain around its trunks.
The Beltingham Yew, in Northumbria, is much younger: it is believed to be 900 years old, making the legend that St Cuthbert (c.635-87) preached under the tree unlikely. It is also held together with metal bands.
The beech at Bayham Abbey, near Lamberhurst, in Kent, is thought to be about 200 years old. By the time it seeded, the abbey would already have been a ruin. Part of the tree was lost in the Great Storm of 1987, but it continues to dominate the east end of the abbey site.
Members of the public are invited to vote for their favourite tree. There are separate competitions for Scotland and Wales. Voting closes on 24 September.
For more details, visit woodlandtrust.org.uk