THIS week is National Tree Week (November 28th-December 6th).
At King’s Ely, our 75-acre campus is home to a wonderful array of trees, including of course the legendary Great London Plane Tree of Ely.
Tree enthusiasts from across the globe visit the school (when Covid restrictions are not in place), to get up close to the stunning Plane Tree in the gardens of the Old Palace, which is home to our Sixth Form Centre.
Following the ravages of the Civil War, restoration projects in Cambridgeshire included the Bishop’s Palace, and it was following the Palace’s refurbishment in 1674 that the tree was gifted to and planted by the Bishop of Ely at the time, Peter Gunning.
In June 2002 and in celebration of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, The Tree Council designated the Great London Plane Tree of Ely as one of the ‘Top 50 British Trees’ – and it even has its place in national heritage.
In 2012, King’s Ely took over custody of the tree and it is thanks to the expertise and care of the school’s Grounds Team, with support from Barcham Trees, based just south of Ely, that the magnificent specimen continues to flourish as the largest and oldest living example of the London Plane Tree in the UK.
In 2013, King’s Ely launched a project with Barcham Trees to take cuttings from the Plane Tree and to nurture and grow them on as a direct strain of the original UK trees. With the support of East Cambridgeshire District Council’s trees officers, the first cuttings were taken in 2014. To everyone’s relief, the cuttings took hold and the young Plane Trees started to grow under the watchful eye of arborists at Barcham Trees.
In October 2018, one of those young Plane Trees was planted in the Old Palace Gardens – not far from its ‘parent’ – and in November 2018, two of the young Plane Trees were delivered to London’s Kew Gardens and Norfolk’s Sandringham Estate. Other cuttings have been planted at Denston Hall in Suffolk, Parham Hall in Suffolk and at the Arboricultural Association in Gloucestershire.