Living history on Norfolk’s doorstep
Nestling quietly in woodland – or even on a neighbourhood street corner – there may be trees which tell a forgotten royal story. DAVID FREEZER looks at a new website which reveals our natural links to the coronation of George VI.
As England's new king was being crowned, seeds were planted, flowers blossomed and bulbs sprouted in celebration of his ascension to the throne.
Now, 75 years later, that natural beauty which marked a country's celebrations may well have lost its original meaning.
But as communities across Norfolk prepare to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this summer, the Woodland Trust is looking to rekindle that 1930s spirit.
The Trust has uncovered the Royal Record of King George VI's Coronation, which details all the tree planting undertaken by thousands of schools, parishes, organisations and homeowners in 1936/37.
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Trees that many of us may now take for granted where we live could well have been planted to mark the King's coronation – and now the Royal Record has been made freely available on the internet.
In Norwich, for example, there are several entries.
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The book states that one tulip tree was planted at the Jenny Lind Hospital for Children, and was planted and presented by the hospital's committee.
There were also four mountain ash and three weeping birch planted on Church Avenue, Eaton, which were presented by Elsie and Arthur Scrimshaw, while there was a sizeable site planted at Woodbastwick, near Salhouse.
The record states that a one-acre plot was planted off the Panxworth-Norwich Road, near Primrose Corner Coronation Plantation – consisting of 250 Douglas fir, 500 European larch, 500 Japanese larch, 150 Scots fir – by H. J. Cator Esq.
The record details plantings in gardens, parks and public spaces, and even names the individuals who planted the trees.
The Trust hopes people will access the book and look for trees which may have been planted within their community and seek them out, to inspire people to take part in a similar project to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
Georgina McLeod, head of the Jubilee Woods Project, said: 'We hope people will be inspired by the Royal Record to get involved in the Trust's ambitious plan to plant a million garden trees.
'You can be part of this nationwide transformation by visiting www.jubileewoods.org.uk and pledging to plant a tree.
'We can help you choose and purchase your tree and once it's planted you can add your story, including pictures and memories to the new Royal Record.
'The Record will be preserved online and a copy will be presented to the Queen herself. Who knows? Maybe loved ones will be inspired by your story in another 75 years.'
The Trust wants the trees which will be planted as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations to be native deciduous trees such as oak, ash, wild cherry and hazel – all of which will encourage wildlife to the garden in which they are planted.
Paul Woodhouse, media volunteer for the Trust in Norfolk and Suffolk, said: 'The aim is to encourage members of the public to plant a tree within their own garden.
'This could be a small tree on a balcony or an oak sapling which could eventually become a majestic mature tree.
'It is hoped a million people will take up the offer and all these plantings along with who planted what tree where will be entered into a new version of the red book, which the Woodland Trust will digitise and then make a copy to be presented to the Queen.'
t To view the Royal Record, and to search for your area, go to www.woodland trust.org.uk/en/jubilee-woods/about/Pages/royal-record.aspx
Paul Woodhouse, media volunteer for the Woodland Trust in Norfolk and Suffolk, tracked down one of the King's coronation listings from the Royal Record. His search took him to Rackheath, north of Norwich, where he found cherry trees.
He said: 'As part of the celebrations back in 1937, 15 flowering cherries, Prunus avium, were planted in the grounds of Rackheath Church by the Rev H J Adams. The entry can be found on page 170 of the red book along
with many other entries for Norfolk. These entries include a number of conifer plantations such as at Wiveton Hall and Felbrigg.
'Many of the trees planted include red horse chestnuts which, although attractive when in flower, are non-native and, along with the conifer plantations, are of limited value for wildlife.'