a 158-year-old redwood, is this the uk’s oldest surviving christmas tree?

The Wrest Park | UK's Oldest Christmas Tree | English Heritage | Glamping Holidays UK

The Wrest Park Christmas Tree as it appeared in the June 1900 edition of Gardener’s Chronicle (left). The tree as it stands curreently (right).
Credit: English Heritage

By now most of us who celebrate Christmas will have recycled or packed away our Christmas trees for another 12 months but there is one that still continues to stand tall and proud in the UK. The news comes from the cultural agency in the United Kingdom, stating that is has discovered the oldest living Christmas tree in all of Britain.

It’s fair to say that the 158-year-old tree hasn’t been used as a holiday decoration in decades, but at one time it was indeed uprooted annually for the Christmas period and brought indoors, where it stood as pride of place in the halls of an English mansion. The tree was then replanted again come the end of each holiday season.

Some 159 years ago in 1856, Thomas Philip de Grey had the tree planted on the grounds of his estate, Wrest Park, cited in Bedfordshire, England. Just before the end of 2014, gardeners with English Heritage, the organisation that now owns and operates the estate, revealed the tree’s festive history.

The gardeners discovered a reference to the tree which now stands at an impressive 30 metres (100 feet) in the historic June 1900 edition of the Gardner’s Chronicle periodical. Bestowing to the article, the tree was “planted by the late Mr. Snow in 1856, and must therefore have been one of the first introduced into this country.”

The tree is a giant redwood, native to some areas of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California, United States. In 1853, a British plant collector by the name of William Lobb brought some redwood seeds back to England with him on his return from the States, where they were quickly acquired by keen horticulturists who had heard of the adult redwood’s outstanding proportions, according to the National Trust.

It must have been some of the gardeners at Wrest Park who were among the lucky few to snap up some one of these newly arrived redwood seeds, which consequently, were promptly planted in the estate’s conservatory. Once the tree had grown to a suitable size to serve as holiday décor, the gardeners began their yearly tradition of transporting the sequoia over to the de Grey mansion.

Christmas trees were commercialised in England during the reign of Queen Victoria between 1837 and 1876. The Queen’s husband, Prince Albert, had adored this tradition throughout his childhood in Germany.

However, the powers that be at the English Heritage can’t be certain that the Wrest Park sequoia most definitely the oldest Christmas tree in the whole of the United Kingdom. Therefore, the Heritage is asking that the British population to come forward if they know of an even tree that’s older.

However, in order to commemorate the rediscovery of this historical tree, the English Heritage team invited Wrest Park visitors to help decorate the giant conifer in traditional style for Christmas 2014. In the olden days, families bedecked their trees with candles, sweets and homemade decorations, but seeing as the tree is located outdoors, visitors used another traditional decoration in the form of ribbons to get the tree ready for the holidays.

If you have plans to get outdoors and try and find an older tree, then why not go on a Brecon Beacons luxury glamping holiday and see what you can find in a region full of nature and natural beauty?

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