Greenwich Park is one of eight Royal Parks in London and its home to a hollow tree named ‘Queen Elizabeth’s Oak.’ The Tudor queen was said to have often taken refreshment whilst relaxing in the shade of its branches which once grew in the grounds of Greenwich Palace.
Legend has it that her parents King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn danced around the tree during their long courtship.
Although the tree died sometime in the 19th century, it was held upright for a further 150 years by ivy. The tree remained standing until 1991 when it came down during a heavy rain storm. Now it lays on its side and is protected by a small fence. The Duke of Edinburgh planted a new tree nearby in memory of the old one in 1992.
In 2013, a tree ring specialist, Dr A K Moir took samples from the main trunk, and sections from broken pieces of timber found under the fallen trunk of the Queen Elizabeth Oak in Greenwich Park were collected, as were samples from an adjacent oak tree for comparative purposes.
A 233-year mean tree-ring series was established for the Queen Elizabeth Oak which was dated to AD 1569–1801, thus positively identifying that the tree was alive in the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1. As the tree was hollow it was not possible to determine a precise date of germination, but it is estimated that the tree germinated in the latter decades of the thirteenth century or possibly the early decades of the fourteenth century. Interpretation of sapwood suggests that the death of the tree occurred during the period AD 1827–1842.
Greenwich Palace was the grand birth place of three Tudor monarchs, Henry VIII, Mary I and Elizabeth I. After the English civil war, Oliver Cromwell who, after executing Charles I, was head of the new republic, tried to sell the palace. When he failed he made the entire building into a biscuit factory and for a short period of time into a prisoner of war camp. By the time of the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, the Palace of had fallen into a state of disrepair and was sadly pulled down.
In 2017 archaeologists discovered the remains of Greenwich Palace. A team working on a development underneath the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, southeast London, discovered two rooms belonging to the old Tudor palace. The rooms are believed to have been used as kitchens, a brew-house or laundry areas.
The site of what was once Greenwich Palace and grounds.
References, details and information:
Visitor information: https://www.royalparks.org.uk accessed: 09/03/18 at 13:20
Tree ring analysis details are available from:
Photographs: © Copyright Christine Matthews