Cotswold Trees

PUBLISHED: 12:46 19 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:08 20 February 2013



The Cotswolds landscape is a rich repository of ancient trees, reflecting a history stretching back to Roman times and beyond. While its buildings are protected, its ancient trees very often are not. They have borne witness to centuries of change

The Cotswolds landscape is a rich repository of ancient trees, reflecting a history stretching back to Roman times and beyond. While its buildings are protected, its ancient trees very often are not. They have borne witness to centuries of change, but also represent a precious wildlife habitat.

You can find a record of thousands of ancient trees from across the UK on the Woodland Trust's website. They can be seen by choosing 'historic maps' on the interactive map menu: Ancient tree hunters have already recorded real treasures across the Cotswolds, but there are many, many more to be championed on the website,



Sweet Chestnut



Horse Chestnut


This proud oak with a girth of nearly seven metres looks over the High Street in Upton St Leonards on what was the grounds of St Leonard's Court,. The village is now a suburb of Gloucester, but 150 years ago it was a small village surrounded by fields with its own smithy and post office.

Oak can be seen as ancient timbers in historic buildings, barns and houses across the Cotswolds.

This magnificent beech, with a near six-metre girth, stands on private grounds at the southern edge of Sarsgrove Wood, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, south of Chipping Norton. The wood is designated 'ancient woodland', and has been continuously wooded since at least 1600AD. As the woodland has regenerated over the years, this beech stands as a lone veteran against the backdrop of the younger woodland landscape.

In 1776 Peter Collinson, then Britain's leading dendrologist, described this ancient chestnut in Tortworth as "the largest tree in England, being 52 feet (15.8 metres) around." This ancient and multi-stemmed tree was thought to be 600 years old even then. More than two hundred years later it was proclaimed one of the Great British Trees during the Queen's Golden Jubilee year in 2002.

This willow, with a girth of 4.2 metres, is one of several remarkable old willows on this stretch of river, at the confluence of the Evenlode and the Isis. An old map shows a wharf stream with its own towpath headed south from Eynsham Wharf to join the Thames here. Pre- railways, the Thames provided an important trade route to Oxford and London, for coal, corn, salt and stone.

This ash is considered a veteran tree, and stands in a hedgerow amongst other notable trees in the village of Kingston Lisle near Wantage, with an impressive girth of 4.37 metres.

The village appears largely unchanged in size over the past 150 years, in comparison to other villages which have sprawled or have been swallowed up by the spread of towns.

This veteran horse chestnut in Park Street, Woodstock has a girth exceeding six metres and has probably been a town tree all its life. Park Street was once home to the Medieval English poet, Geoffrey Chaucer. It is unlikely to have provided 14th century shade for the author of the Canterbury Tales, but would have become a part of the street scene only a couple of hundred years later.


The iconic oak of the Cotswolds is likely to be of the pedunculate variety. A major woodland tree, very often the giant of the forest and landmark of ancient parkland.

Beech is a native tree in southern England but has been widely planted across parks and gardens. The tree casts dense shade and only its own leaves and nuts are found underneath.

Sweet Chestnut is widely cultivated for its edible nuts, first introduced into more northerly regions in Roman times and cultivated in monastery gardens by monks.

Willow is particularly abundant in wet areas, or along long gone water courses. Male and female catkins appear on separate trees in April/May

Beloved for its April flowers which look like coral growth. Look also for the winged seeds from autumn right through to spring.

Originally introduced from Turkey in the late 16th century, the famously spreading tree has become a very common and popular tree in parks, gardens and village greens

Tree Factoid

The ships in the famous Battle of Trafalgar were hewn from oak.

The oil pressed from beech nuts was used to fuel oil lamps

Its nuts are the wild version of the roasted chestnuts traditionally eaten at Christmas

The name, crack willow comes from the ease at which the shoots 'crack' off the main twigs

Ash wood is a favourite to make tool handles

The name 'horse chestnut' may derive from its use in horse medicines

The Woodland Trust is the UK's leading woodland conservation charity, with more than 180,000 members and 1,000 woods, comprising more than 50,000 acres of woodland habitat.The Trust is committed to the protection and conservation of ancient woodland, and the re-planting of native broadleaf woodland.

Woodland Trust, Autumn Park, Dysart Road, Grantham, Lincolnshire NG31 6LL 1JT, or 01476 581111

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