Ankerwycke

The ancient Ankerwycke Yew, Ankerwycke, Surrey

It's a little out of the way but well worth the journey, open all year round with an ancient 2,500 year old yew tree and the remains of a Benedictine priory to discover. With a wonderful array of wildlife and a wide variety of trees, Ankerwycke is the perfect spot for a peaceful walk.

 

Ankerwycke yew

 
 
The National Trust's oldest tree, this iconic 2,500 year old yew is steeped in history. According to popular belief, it was beneath this tree that King Henry VIII courted Anne Boleyn, and some reports suggest that he even proposed in its shadow. While Magna Carta is said to have been sealed at Runnymede, there are those who argue that the event actually took place on the other side of the river, perhaps under this very yew.
 

St Mary's priory

 
These crumbling walls were once a nunnery, built during the reign of Henry II and dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene. Following the dissolution of the monasteries the priory passed into private hands, and was patched up many times over the years. During the 19th and 20th centuries much of the surviving building fell into disrepair, and today only a few overgrown walls remain.
 

Wildlife

 
 
Ankerwycke is home to wildlife in abundance. Listen out for the loud, laughing calls of the green woodpeckers, or see if you can spot them feeding on insects in the woods. The emerald dragonfly and large red dragonfly are often visible darting between the ponds, and in spring the bare ground is carpeted with snowdrops, thought to be planted here in Victorian times.