Section 1 – Bristol’s veteran trees

Veteran trees in the public realm with a girth greater than 500 cm

The eight-figure ST Grid References should enable each tree to be found individually. For example, on the web, go to UK Grid Reference Finder and enter the ST reference, and a map of the site comes up. Alternatively, you can see details and tree locations at Trees of Bristol.

  1. Common Oak, Quercus robur. ST5521 7180. In Ashton Park beside the main drive. Girth 820cm. Age 700 years. A magnificent veteran, reduced to a substantial stump, but still vigorous. This is just one of over a hundred ancient pollard oaks in the park, the largest group in the country outside Windsor Great Park.
  1. Sweet Chestnut, Castanea sativa. ST5541 7203. In Ashton Park. Girth 805cm. Age 600 years. The largest of a line of six magnificent trees along the brow of the hill, probably all planted at the same time. There are hundreds of baby Chestnuts below them, so that, despite the die back of the main branches, all these trees are still vigorous.
  1. Monterey Cypress, Cupressus macrocarpa. ST5528 7519. In Bishops Knoll Wood, Bramble Lane, Stoke Bishop. Girth 710cm. Age 150 years. This species was first introduced into the UK from its tiny natural outpost on the Monterey Peninsula in Californian in 1839. It proved to have the fastest rate of growth of any species. This colossal specimen, still surrounded by its Victorian ironwork, cannot have been planted earlier than 1860. It is one of the parents of Cupressus leylandii, so commonly, and rashly, planted as screening today.
  1. Wellingtonia, Sequoiadendron giganteum. ST5570 7779. In Combe Dingle. Girth 710cm. This is the largest of the three Wellingtonias in the Blaise estate, perhaps because it is growing so close to the stream near the lower pond.
  1. Sweet Chestnut, Castanea sativa. ST5636 7855. In the Blaise Estate. Girth 700cm. Age 550 years. This huge tree is in the meadow off the Henbury Road. It has vast horizontal branches a with.
  1. Sweet Chestnut, Castanea sativa. ST5728 7295. Chesterfield Hospital, Clifton. Girth 700cm. Age 550 years. This very vigorous stump appears to pre-date the original villa, and has survived the original building of the hospital, and its recent reconstruction. It is on private land, but is accessible to the public.
  1. Sessile Oak, Quercus petraea. ST5535 7521. Bishops Knoll Wood, Bramble Lane Stoke Bishop. Girth 700cm. Aged 700 years. This massive tree may have been a bundle planting, as its various trunks do not appear to originate from a pollard cut. It is mysterious because its presence is disguised by the growth of young ash trees around it, and, despite its huge size, it is not easy to find.
  1. Common Oak, Quercus robur. ST5568 7780. In Combe Dingle, this tree has a hollow trunk into which half a dozen people might stand, but it is on a steep slope and it has not been pollarded.
  1. Cedar of Lebanon, Cedrus libani. ST5624 7869. At Blaise House close to the main house. Girth 695cm. Age 250 years. Cedars grow exceptionally fast and this tree is probably not more than 250 years old, but it is the finest in Bristol, occupying a very prominent position.
  1. Common Oak, Quercus robur. ST5520 7537. Bishops Knoll wood, Bramble Lane Stoke Bishop. Girth 690cm. Age 700 years old. This is the largest of a line of squat oak pollards which were planted just above the floodplain of the river Avon as part of the wood-pasture of the old Sneyd Park estate. Sixty years ago they were all still fine tall trees, but are now reduced to hulks, dominated by young ash trees. Some are still vigorous; others have collapsed completely. Several are on private land.
  1. Common Oak, Quercus robur. ST5657 7554. Just off Stoke Park Road in the grounds of Trinity College, and opposite the University Botanic Garden. Girth 675cm. Age 700 years old. This fine leaning veteran pollard is technically in private land, but easily seen. The whole area of Sneyd Park was originally woodland pasture, and there are a large number of veteran oaks which have survived, many now in private gardens.
  1. London Plane, Platanus x acerifolia. ST6199 7150. Brislington Brook. Girth 675cm. Age 250 years. London Planes grow very rapidly, and this vast specimen was probably associated with Brislington House. It now fills the valley of the brook, and is hollow. It was in danger of being ruined by fires built inside its hollow trunk, a common fate of veteran trees, but was recently saved by being bricked up. The species came to Britain in 1690, and is still being widely planted.
  1. Horse Chestnut, Aesculus hippocastanum. ST5758 7305. York Place, Clifton in the grounds of Manor Hall. Girth 625cm. Age 450. Much the oldest and largest Horse Chestnut in the city, this vigorous multi-trunked maiden tree has survived the building of Manor Hall in the 1960s which left it isolated twenty feet above the road that had been driven past it. From a distance it looks like an ordinary tree, but its base is well below the level of York Place. Close up it is astonishing.
  1. 13-1. London Plane, Platanus x acerifolia. ST6014 7443. Mina Road Park.  Girth 620cm. The group of Plane trees in the Mina Road park are stunning, and all the same Age, having been planted in c 1880.  And this one is the largest.
  1. Wellingtonia, Sequoiadendron giganteum. ST5573 7779. Blaise estate. Girth 600cm. Age 150. This is the second large tree close to the lowest pond on the Trym. When the seeds arrived from California, in 1855, at the Veitch nursery in Exeter, everyone who was anyone bought a tree. The Smythes of Ashton Court bought an avenue. Thus almost every tree in Bristol is roughly the same Age, and difference in girth reflect their habitat. Unfortunately, a number have died or are dying, which, as they can live for 5000 years, is disturbing. There is a grove of them in Ashton Hill Plantation, a stunning sight.
  1. Cedar of Lebanon, Cedrus libani. ST5600 7640. Stoke Lodge. Girth 605cm. Age 150 years. There are three Cedars in the Stoke Lodge grounds all the same size and Age, though one unfortunately is dead, and being sculpted. There are probably more Lebanon Cedars in Britain than in the state of Lebanon. Includes trees 16 & 17.
  1. Common Oak, Quercus robur. ST5400 7738. Kings Weston estate. Girth 600cm. Age 450 years. This is the oldest tree in the Kings Weston estate, and predates the house. It is on a steep bank running down to a path, and is very tall and vigorous. It is surprisingly difficult to find given its huge bulk.
  1. London Plane, Platanus x acerifolia. ST5410 7779. Kings Weston Lane. Girth 600cm. Age 200 years. There are three giant planes in a tiny strip of woodland off Kings Weston lane. Until five years ago they were towering trees, but fears that they might collapse and cause damage, led to all three being cut down to about twenty feet in height. Their vast girth is unaltered, and all three are putting out new shoots. Whereas once they dominated, now they have to be looked for. Includes trees 20 & 21.
  1. Cedar of Lebanon, Cedrus libani. ST6391 7765. Frenchay Hospital (as was). Girth 600cm. Age 150 years. The future of the magnificent trees on this site must be uncertain.
  1. Cedar of Lebanon, Cedrus libani. ST5728 7313. Victoria Square, Clifton. Girth 595cm. Age 150 years. One of the few trees from the original planting. Its horizontal branches, twenty metres long, are dramatic.
  1. Sweet Chestnut, Castanea sativa. ST6366 7679. Oldbury Court. Girth 590cm. Age 400 years. This massive veteran stands in the middle of a large grassy area, and has a fine head of branches above a clean bole. It dominates the park.
  1. Common Oak, Quercus robur. ST6241 7108. Victory Park, Brislington. One of two giant oaks in the hedges of this park. Girth 580 cm. Age perhaps 380 years old. Has its feet in the stream, on the northern edge of the park, which may account for its vigour.
  1. Common Oak, Quercus robur. ST6254 7081. Victory Park, Brislington. One of two giant oaks in the hedges of this park. Girth 580 cm. Age perhaps 380 years old. Is in a hedge on the NE edge of the Park.
  1. Common Oak, Quercus robur. ST6357 7714. Oldbury Court. Girth 570cm. Age 380. This giant is in the woods on the northern edge of the park, set above the almost vertical drop to the River Frome below.
  1. Hybrid Black Poplar, Populus x canadensis. ST5578 7786. Blaise estate. Girth 570cm. Age 170. This huge dead stump lost its top in a storm some thirty years ago, and more recently was trimmed back for safety reasons, but in the last year or so fungus has attacked and killed it- the fungus growth can still be seen as a black network clinging to the wood.
  1. Holm Oak, Quercus ilex. ST5696 7284. Clifton. Girth 550cm. Age 250. This tree is in the private grounds of Cornwallis House, and there is no public access, but it is clearly visible, and probably the oldest of its species in the city.
  1. Horse Chestnut, Aesculus hippocastanum. ST6172 7735. Stoke Park, Hermitage Wood. There are three veteran Horse Chestnuts in hermitage wood, the largest trees there. This has a girth of 550cm and is on the eastern edge of the wood. Likely to have been planted for aesthetic reasons, for the woods were managed for wood and timber. Probably 300 years old.
  1. Horse Chestnut, Aesculus hippocastanum. ST6189 7760. Stoke Park, Hermitage Wood. There are three veteran Horse Chestnuts in hermitage wood, the largest trees there. This has a girth of 505cm and the corner of the wood Likely to have been planted for aesthetic reasons, for the woods were managed for wood and timber. Probably 300 years old.
  1. Horse Chestnut, Aesculus hippocastanum. ST6178 7739. Stoke Park, Hermitage Wood. There are three veteran Horse Chestnuts in hermitage wood, the largest trees there. This has a girth of 500cm. This at the northern edge of the main path through the wood. Both are likely to have been planted for aesthetic reasons, for the woods were managed for wood and timber. Probably 300 years old.
  1. Common Oak, Quercus robur. ST5576 7885. Two ancient pollard oaks, this one healthy tree with massive burrs in the middle of the field and part of a large group of huge, pollard oaks in fields and hedges belonging to the Riding for the Disabled Association, with public access by footpath.
  1. Common Oak, Quercus robur. ST5589 7891. One of two ancient pollard oaks, this one a hollow wreck, ivy clad, and collapsing in a hedge and part of a large group of huge, pollard oaks in fields and hedges belonging to the Riding for the Disabled Association, with public access by footpath. 
  1. Copper Beech, Fagus sylvatica. ST5661 7371. Merchant Venturers House, The Promenade Clifton. Girth 540cm. Age 160 years. This is the largest Copper Beech in Bristol, one of a large number in the Clifton area. It grows in the private front garden of the mansion, dominating its surroundings, and shows what a magnificent tree the Beech can be when grown free from competition.
  1. Wellingtonia, Sequoiadendron giganteum. ST5666 7370. Lord Mayors House, Canynge Road, Clifton. Girth 540cm. Age 160. A very fine tree, slightly smaller than the one at Blaise, but planted at a similar date.
  1. Eastern Plane, Platanus orientalis. ST5908 7233. The Quaker burial ground, Redcliffe Hill. Girth 540cm. Age 200. The tree has a very decided lean. It is one of the parents of the London Plane, but is now very rarely planted, though it grows just as fast.
  1. Lombardy Poplar, Populus nigra ‘Italica’. ST5932 7506. St Andrews Park, BS6. Girth 530cm. Age 120. Poplars are exceptionally fast growing trees, but there are very few old Lombardy Poplars in Bristol parks, though they were often planted as industrial screening in the 1930s. This one has developed huge buttresses to strengthen it against the wind.
  1. Common Oak, Quercus robur. ST6156 7740. Stoke Park, Long Wood. Girth 530cm. Age 300. Long Wood was a working woodland, part of the Stoke Park estate, and it would have grown Oaks for timber and coppiced Hazel for fencing. This is the largest of a number of the oaks which would normally have been felled at an Age of about 150 years if the price was right. But demand for timber fell sharply in the 19th century with the invention of cheap steel so that a large number of veteran trees remain.
  1. Common Oak, Quercus robur. ST5461 7666. Shirehampton Golf course, by southern tip. Girth 520cm. Age 320. This fine tree lies by the path around the Golf course which is National Trust land, leased to the golfers. If visiting, please keep to the path.
  1. London Plane, Platanus europaea. ST6143 7512. Eastville Park, close to the southern tip. Girth 520cm. It seems unlikely that this tree preceded the creation of the park so that it is only 120 years old. 
  1. Common Beech, Fagus sylvatica. ST6168 7552. Eastville park. A huge pollard by the eastern end of the lake, girth 520cm. This giant must have existed before the park was created and should be 300 years old.
  1. Deodar Cedar, Cedrus deodara. ST5592 7646. Stoke Lodge. Girth 520, Age 150. This cedar comes from Afghanistan, and is characterised by drooping tips to the shoots.
  1. Wellingtonia, Sequoiadendron giganteum. ST5602 7863. Blaise estate. Girth 520cm Age 150. This is the tree growing in splendour close to the House. It is 33m high, but with a smaller girth than the one by the pond.
  1. Holm Oak, Quercus ilex. ST5680 7302. West Mall garden, Clifton. Girth 520cm. Age 150. There are some eight Holm Oaks which were planted in c 1850. This specimen has a wonderfully contorted and twisted bole, as a result of pollarding down the years.
  1. London Plane, Platanus europaea. ST5875 7250. Queens Square. Girth 510cm. Age 180. There were trees planted around Queens Square in 1688, shown on the Millerd Map, but the London Plane was not created until 1690. The present trees must date to the early Victorian period, and there are numerous pictures of them. A mini tornado blew some over c 40 years ago, so they are not all the same Age.
  1. Common Oak, Quercus robur. ST5664 7761. Henbury Golf Course. Girth 505cm. Age 300. This tree is in an ancient hedge line, and on the footpath through the Golf course, which is otherwise private. It is the largest of several oaks in this hedge.
  1. Common Lime, Tilia europaea. ST5398 7728. Kings Weston, the main avenue. Girth 500cm. Age 300. The Common Lime was the commonest tree for formal avenues in the 18th century, and there are the remnants of a double avenue on one side of the carriage drive and a single one on the other, almost certainly planted when the house was built by Vanbrugh in 1720. This is the oldest lime avenue in the city. The longest, planted in 1860, leads up to what is now Redland High School, at ST584 745. The trees typically have dense masses of growth both around the base of the trunk and in the middle of the tree as they are clones. The individual trees in the avenue have suffered a variety of different fates down the years, and are very hard to measure accurately.
  1. Horse Chestnut, Aesculus hippocastanum. ST5712 7574. Saville Road, the Downs. Girth 500cm. Age 200. This is the largest of the Horse Chestnut on the Downs, though the line along Westbury Park Road were probably planted at the same time. This tree is diseased with bleeding canker, but remains vigorous. A number of other trees have succumbed in the past few years and had to be felled.
  1. Common Oak, Quercus robur. ST5781 7291. Brandon Hill. Girth 500cm. Age 300. This magnificent tree has boughs twenty metres long. It is just inside the park-keepers compound, but dominates the area. It is the oldest tree in this extraordinary park, which has been a public open space for 800 years.
  1. Black Poplar, Populus x canadensis. ST5935 7156. Victoria Park. Girth 500 plus. Half this tree has rotted away, and its top has been truncated, and lies alongside it, but it is still just alive. The largest of about fifteen Poplars in the park all of which were probably planted in around 1890.

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