John A Ince Great Yeldham Essex 19th April 2017 R. I. P.
I used to visit my uncle as a boy when we visited my nan who lived
in Great Yeldham, I was always pleased to see the Old Oak Tree
from the car as I knew we were not far from our destination.
'The Great Oak' is the remains of a 1000 year old (at least) Oak Tree in Great Yeldham, North Essex (UK). The Oak was once 80 feet high and what is left of the trunk was encased in concrete in 1949 to prevent it collapsing in on itself. Attached to the base is a commemorative plaque.
'THE GREAT OAK GREAT YELDHAM ESSEX. THE HISTORY OF THIS GREAT OAK IS OBSCURE. ALTHOUGH IT WAS SHOWN ON MAPS IN 1777 AS THE GREAT OAK AND MARKED THE FORD IN THE RIVER AT THIS ROAD JUNCTION. THE YELDHAM OAKS MAY HAVE BEEN THOSE USED FOR SHIPBUILDING IN THE TENTH CENTURY. THE ROAD CONNECTING COLCHESTER TO CAMBRIDGE IS BELIEVED TO BE AN OLD ROMAN ROAD. RECORDS SHOW THAT THIS TREE WAS ALIVE AFTER 1860 AND ATTAINED A GIRTH OF NEARLY 30 FT A HEIGHT OF 80 FT AND IS REPUTED TO BE OVER 300 YEARS OLD. THE TRUNK WAS (?) AND PRESERVED BY PUBLIC SUBSCRIPTION IN 1949. THE YOUNG OAK ADJACENT WAS PLANTED TO COMMEMORATE THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN KING EDWARD VII AND QUEEN ALEXANDRA IN 1863. THIS PLAQUE WAS ERECTED BY PUBLIC SUBSCRIPTION IN 1959 AND THE FUND WAS OPENED WITH A SUBSCRIPTION FROM LEILA STONE OF CALIFORNIA U.S.A. WHO SHOWED GREAT INTEREST IN THIS RELIC OF A PAST AGE. A. CARLETON WHITLOCK CHAIRMAN YELDHAM PARISH COUNCIL'
What the plaque fails to say though is that the Great Oak is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 which makes it approaching 1000 years old at least... quite a glaring omission really. Another minor point is that in 1863 King Edward VII was Prince of Wales and did not become King until 1901 so neither him or Queen Alexandra would have held those titles at that point in time.