Horse chestnut named UK’s largest

Published: Saturday 29th November 2014 by The News Editor

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A 300-year-old horse chestnut tree in the grounds of the country estate where prime minister Benjamin Disraeli lived has been declared the largest in the country.

The veteran tree on the National Trust’s Hughenden estate in Buckinghamshire has a girth of 7.33 metres (more than 24ft), clinching its status as the largest horse chestnut tree in the UK on the National Tree Register.

The Hughenden tree, which stands in 275 hectares (680 acres) of parkland on the estate, has taken the crown from a horse chestnut in Whitchurch, Hampshire, which is 13cm (5 inches) smaller at 7.2 metres (more than 23ft).

Steve Kirkpatrick, National Trust ranger for Hughenden, said the tree had reached such a huge size because it had been allowed to grow unhindered, was planted in good soil and had benefited from plenty of nutrients as it was on a flood plain.

He added: ” It’s impossible to date precisely but it’s certainly over 300 years old, so it pre-dates many of the other trees at Hughenden which were planted by our former prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, who lived here for 33 years in the 19th century.

“Disraeli loved trees. He famously said: ‘when I come to Hughenden I pass the first week sauntering about the park examining all my trees, and the second examining my books’.

“He loved to plant trees around the estate and during his time here tripled the size of the parkland.

“Although few remain now, the landscape still reflects what he set out to do in terms of creating a parkland full of wonderful specimens to include cedar of Lebanon and Deodar cedar.”

The National Trust said the chestnut was one of a number of “national champion” trees in its care, including the tallest Scots pine in the country, at Cragside in Northumberland, and the tallest oak at Stourhead in Wiltshire.

The Trust looks after more than 30,000 notable or veteran trees – ones which because of their age, size or condition are of exceptional value to the landscape, culture or conservation – across its woodlands and estates.

These include the Ankerwycke Yew at Runnymede, Surrey, thought to be the Trust’s oldest tree at 2,500 years old, and the Old Man of Calke at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire, an oak dating back a thousand years or more.

The announcement about the horse chestnut has been made to mark the start of National Tree Week.

Published: Saturday 29th November 2014 by The News Editor

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