My husband and I are both members of the National Trust and we were flicking through their “What’s On” magazine today looking for an interesting place to visit. We discovered that there was a snowdrop spectacular happening this weekend in the meadows surrounding Runnymede in Berkshire. So we set off without knowing too much about the place other than it was where the Magna Carta was signed in 1215
When we got there we took the circular walk around Ankerwycke Meadows looking for the snowdrops and an ancient yew tree. The meadows are beautiful; there are lot of old trees covered in mistletoe and plenty of birds and other wildlife to watch for.
We eventually reached the snowdrops after walking the long way around and the ruins of an old priory. Just around the corner from the old priory in the middle of a carpet of snowdrops stands a magnificent yew tree. It’s obviously very old as it is very gnarly and hollow in the middle.
As we walked around the tree we discovered that it has quite a few visitors as there were offerings of flowers, wreaths, ribbons and pictures left on, in and around the tree.
We stopped for a cup of tea from the flask we had brought with us and I found a sense of peace and love coming from the tree. This is not the usual feel I get from a yew tree. I gave the tree a libation of tea which I think it was grateful for as I was greeted with a wonderful woody smell as I sat back down. We spent a few moments just taken in the peace and quiet.
Wondering just how old the Yew tree is I’ve done a little research and find that this is a very fascinating tree indeed. It is thought to be around 1,500 to 2,000 years old and has witnessed much in its long life. It is thought to have been the actual spot where King John signed the Magna Carta and it is also believed to have been under this tree where Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn used to meet in a secret tryst.
It is by no accident that Runnymede has become known as special meeting place as it was used as such long before the signing of the Magna Carta. In Saxon times it was known as Rune-Mede, (meadow of the Runes) a place of council where runes would have been consulted and runes, at the time, had deep association with yew trees.
So pleased we stumbled across the magnificent tree today.
The Woodland Trust
Pictures by Sunchylde Dryadmoon