The history of One Tree Hill
One Tree Hill in Kent was purchased by the National Trust in 1911 with funds given as a gift by Dr and Mrs Jamieson Hurry. Find out their motivations for doing so, and how it helped save and preserve the site as the area of outstanding natural beauty it remains today.
A family connection
As well as being a medical practitioner, Dr Hurry was also an historian. His research and publications on Reading Abbey inspired others to celebrate its history, and culminated in the site being granted Scheduled Ancient Monument status in 1951.
However, the Hurrys’ generous donation to the National Trust was not in his memory, but in memory of Mrs Hurry’s father, Arthur Hill. Mayor of Reading four times, Arthur, or more correctly Alderman Arthur Hill, was the half-brother of Octavia Hill: one of the founding members of the National Trust.
After the National Trust Act of 1907 gave the Trust legal powers to look after places of historic interest or natural beauty, the Hurrys wanted to make sure that prominent hilltop of One Tree Hill, rising some 680ft (207m) above sea level, was protected.
'Dr Hurry was particularly generous in his public gifts. He seemed to realize that it is a duty of those possessing wealth to spend much of it for the benefit of the public…'
- Dr Allen, 8 March 1930, in Dr Hurry's obituary in the British Medical Journal
A special site
It was suggested in the late 19th century that part of the One Tree Hill site was once a Roman Cemetery, although no records have yet been found to confirm this.
Nearly 90 per cent of the trees were felled by the great storm of October 1987 but thankfully the site has recovered well. Today, One Tree Hill remains part of Kent’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and is also a Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI).
One Tree Hill’s mosaic of habitats is home to some rare species of fauna. Find out which ones to look out for, along with the best routes for walking.