Petworth's parkland

A man walking in the parkland at Petworth House, West Sussex

The park at Petworth House, Sussex, is full of magnificent ancient oak, lime and sweet chestnut trees with remarkable stories.

There is one lime tree that’s totally hollow and reduced to just a few living fragments of its former glory, but the footprint of the original tree is still visible to see just how massive it was in former years. This is a natural process and the tree is still quite healthy, but much reduced in size. 
 
Then there’s a walking grey poplar near the parkland wall with a decayed trunk that’s lost its rigidity and has slowly bent down by gravity to touch the ground. At this point it is putting down roots to form another tree, and in this way it is slowly walking across the park.
 
The park is also home to a fine array of wonderful old sweet chestnuts, with big fat trunks and rather small crowns. These ancient trees are many hundreds of years old, living archaeology helping us to interpret and visualise our historic pastoral landscape. 
 
Scenes like this are quite unique to Britain which contains around 60% of all the ancient trees in northern Europe.