Meet Croft's ancient giants

The Quarry oak, Croft castle, Herefordshire

From the thousand-year oak to the row of Spanish chestnuts, these majestic trees offer a glimpse of the history of the parkland.

Trees of this age are rare in Europe and Croft is particularly lucky to have so many survivors. The eldest tree here is known as the ‘Quarry Oak’ and is thought to be over a thousand years old. The Quarry Oak is protected in a sheltered position near the quarry, hence its name, it is still a healthy tree but one that we treat gently and with great respect.

Ancient trees on the walk up to Croft Ambrey, Croft Castle, Herefordshire
Ancient trees on the walk up to Croft Ambrey, Croft Castle, Herefordshire
Ancient trees on the walk up to Croft Ambrey, Croft Castle, Herefordshire

Near to the Castle is the Spanish chestnut avenue which was the original formal approach to the Castle. The story told is that the chestnuts were taken from captured Spanish vessels during the battle of the Spanish Armada (1588) and planted at Croft between 1580 and 1680 and interestingly represent the formal battle plan of the ships at the Armada.

Bluebells beneath the Candelabra Oak
Ancient trees in Croft Castle's parkland in Herefordshire, surrounded by bluebells
Bluebells beneath the Candelabra Oak

The woodland pasture on the estate is also home to more magnificent ancient trees. The ‘Candelabra Oak’ named so because of its outline. This shape is due to the fact that for many years and until relatively recent times, it was regularly pollarded to provide firewood for the estate. Pollarding and coppicing are ways in which trees can be made to live longer than when allowed to grow freely. With a nine-metre girth, the Candelabra Oak is thought to be around nine hundred years old which means this tree would’ve been a youngster when the Magna Carter was signed in 1215!