Over the February half term break we had to say a sad goodbye to our huge, iconic 300-year old tree, following a specialist survey last month.
The ultrasound examination revealed extensive rot and splits in the two-metre-diameter trunk of the ancient copper beech – and the delivery of an unexpected death sentence. The felling of an iconic feature of the school grounds has come as a great shock to teachers and pupils at the day and boarding school in Hethersett.
We recorded the tree’s final few days while it was being carefully removed by specialist tree surgeons and hope that the timelapse film – which you can view on Youtube here – provides a dignified tribute.
Headmaster Stephen Crump said:
“Trees are the oldest living things we meet in everyday life. Our ancient beech was a beautiful tree in all respects and last Autumn it put on one of the best displays we’ve ever seen – its fiery red and gold leaves were just magnificent. It’s as if the tree knew this would be its final season.”
The school is based on an old estate, and Mr Crump thinks there has been a ‘Hall’ on the site since Saxon times.
“When Will Kemp, one of Shakespeare’s fellow actors, danced his famous jig from London to Norwich, there would have been a large farmhouse here; soon afterwards, it became a rather grander gentleman’s residence, and the tree was planted as an addition to the grounds.”
The tree was adopted as the school’s logo and features in all its publications. Luckily, a scion of the tree was planted next to it. Already a good, sturdy young tree, in a few centuries it should rival its grandparent.
“Not that I will be around to see it!” commented Mr Crump wryly.
As the tree yielded over fifty tons of timber, selected pieces have been saved.
“We hope to make some mementos out of the wood of it once it has been properly seasoned, and some pupils and parents have already asked if they can keep a piece as a souvenir”, Mr Crump added.