Hornbeam in the running for 'Tree of the year'

Hornbeam on the estate at Scotney Castle

What is thought to be one of the country's oldest hornbeam trees has been shortlisted by the Woodland Trust in it's Tree of the Year contest. The tree, found in the parkland at Scotney Castle has a chance of being crowned England's favourite tree.

Why is a hornbeam significant?

The hornbeam was planted as part of a wood pasture around 1400s and it forms a major part in the historical, ecological, and cultural part of the Scotney Castle estate.

As the land around it was historically grazed by animals, and still is today, the tree has been managed as a pollard rather than a coppice. The hornbeam would have been harvested on an annual basis with the stems being removed at around 8ft, bundled up and then used by the local community as household fuel.

With hornbeam being a dense wood and the bark of a well established trees being tough, damage by grazing livestock was kept to a minimum so it was an ideal tree to plant on the edge of a park.

The significance of this tree in aprticular is heightened by the lack of any other neighbouring tree anywhere near matching its age. As a veteran tree it stands alone in the landscape.

" The appeal of the Scotney Castle hornbeam is in no doubt related to its age. The parkland where it sits first appears on a map as early as 1597 but the tree may well have witnessed the old castle's construction in 1378. "
- Mark Musgrave, Ranger at Scotney Castle

The competition

Now in its fourth year, tens of thousands of people have already taken part in the conservation charity's competition which celebrate the country's finest trees. This year for the first time one overall UK tree will be chose from the four regional winners as a representative in next year's European Tree of the Year contest. Expert panels have shortlisted 10 trees in England and six in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for voters to choose from.

To vote for our hornbeam as your Tree of the year then visit www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/treeoftheyear  before 9 October.

The hornbeam today

The ranger team manage the tree in a very light touch manner to ensure that it is still here for many years to come. Rather than re-pollarding it we undertake a light reduction every few years to reduce some of the weight from the limbs and reduce the stress on the decaying trunk as there are many areas of natural decay and rot. Reducing the weight on the main trunk of the tree will help prolong the life of this beautiful tree for many generations to come and support the healthy population of many different species of lichens.

See it for yourself

If you would like to see the beautiful hornbeam yourself before casting your vote then you can join one of our guided estate tours that run most days at 11:30 and 2pm. Check our what's on listings for more details or call the property office on 01892 893820 for details on available tours.