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We Love Yew

by glynch — last modified 26 May, 2015 12:09 PM

Campaign to conserve ancient yews launched by Bishop Nicholas at Cathedral

We Love Yew

Bishop Nicholas prepares to bless the yews with Dean of Salisbury, the Very Revd June Osborne, and Chair of the Fabric Committee, Sir Hayden Philips.

Bishop Nicholas has launched a new campaign to promote the conservation of ancient yews on behalf of the Church of England as part of the 800th anniversary celebrations for Magna Carta at Salisbury Cathedral. 

Churches and local communities will be encouraged to apply for grants for community events including poetry readings and photography exhibitions to celebrate the role of the historic trees in English history. 

Grants will also be made available for conservation and management work on the ancient trees, many of which date back more than 1,000 years, as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund-backed campaign. 

Magna Carta is thought to have taken place beneath the Ankerwycke yew, near Runnymede in Surrey, already centuries old in 1215, and still alive today. 

Organisers hope to distribute up to 800 yew tree saplings propagated from yews alive at the time of the Magna Carta for planting this year in churchyards and wider communities. 

Bishop Nicholas launched the scheme as the Church of England’s lead bishop on the environment, when he blessed 43 saplings for distribution to the Church of England dioceses in the Cloisters of Salisbury Cathedral. 

Bishop Nicholas said: “Yews are remarkable trees. Their roots connect us, quite literally, with our ancient past while at the same time they play a vital role in ensuring the planet remains habitable into the future. It is incredible to think that Magna Carta was sealed under a yew tree that is still alive and was then already many centuries old. 

“The yews we are planting as part of this project could still be alive in a thousand years. That gives us the sort of perspective we need to understand how awesome our responsibilities to look after God’s creation are.” 

David Shreeve, the Church of England’s environmental adviser, said: “Ancient yews are our oldest living link to our past and they have been witnesses to so much of our history. 

“We hope that this new project will encourage people to celebrate and appreciate the history of ancient yews and think of ways of ensuring that they continue to grow for hundreds – possibly thousands more years.” 

Stuart Hobley, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund, London, said:  “Of all our well-loved trees, the yew has been a feature in the English landscape where it has stood as a silent witness to so much history, including the signing of Magna Carta. This project helps maintain that direct link with one of most important events in our past and will help in the future conservation of this species.”

Learn more at

See more photos from the launch via this link.

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