A couple of times recently I’ve driven over to Woodlands, a small hamlet between Wimborne and Cranborne, to survey the intriguingly named Remedy Oak for the Ancient Tree Hunt. I must admit it’s very easy to miss, blink and you’ve driven past, but get out of your car and walk around it and I promise you will not be disappointed.
From a distance it’s just another oak tree but as you get nearer you realise just how big it is. To give you some idea of scale my arms wouldn’t even stretch a quarter of a way around this tree if I tried to hug it (which is something I frequency do to trees).
From the road it’s statuesque with a fetching Pisa-esque lean.
Go round to the side and you start to see it’s hidden secret. It’s hollow but not only hollow, half it’s trunk is completely missing.
Go round to the back and you are looking into the living, breathing heart of a giant oak. I measured it’s girth and at 1.15m from the ground it has a 6.42m girth (that’s about 19 feet 8 inches in old money) or just over 4 adult hugs!
So what’s its “royal” connection? Well legend has it that the Boy King, King Edward VI (1537-1553) who came to the throne at the age of 9, was supposed to have sat under the tree and “touched for Kings Evil”.
Kings Evil was a custom that started in medieval times whereby the King (of England or France) could touch people who had skin diseases (especially tuberculosis affecting the lymph nodes of the neck) and it was supposed to heal them. Hence the Remedy Oak. Monarchs were supposed to have received this power through direct decent from Edward the Confessor.
So, back to the tree. It’s held up now with two massive metal wires. Without them it would definitely fall onto the road. In the last few years the local Council has also planted a “Remedy Oak” son next to it. You can see it in the picture above. So that when the time does come, there will be another oak to take it’s place.
Growing all around are Wood Anemones (a sign of an ancient wood) which carpet the ground with their white petals, along with bluebells, snowdrops, daffodils (not native!) and lesser celandine. I thought the wood anemones deserved a closer photo. What a beautiful little flower. I’ve never looked at them in detail before.
The tree itself is lined with mosses, ferns (below) and an invasive rhododendron has also crept in. I will let the Council know and see if they can carefully remove it. No way I’m climbing up there to get it!
So, is this my new “favourite” tree. It isn’t. It’s amazing and beautiful to look at but it’s also sad. It doesn’t have the safe, stability of Adams Oak, the first truly ancient tree I found.
The Remedy Oak is in it’s final years. It’s hanging on to life (literally) by two thin metal wires. I’m just glad I’ve had the opportunity to run my hands over it’s bark and look up into it’s towering branches.