In Lassington Wood, less than 100 yards from the playing field, was a famous, very old and enormous oak tree. It came down in a gale in 1960, but the trunk is still very visible.

Its history.  (with thanks to the Records Office for letters and old photographs, Janet Frost and Hugh Worsnip).

It’s thought to date from around 1100, making it 850 years old when it fell. It was marked on a 1777 map of Gloucestershire, and said to be biggest in the County – and probably much further afield.

Up to 1900 it was quite hollow, but still standing and producing acorns. On a sunny day people from Gloucester would walk up to the tree for a family picnic. The ground around it was probably grass, maybe grazed, and the wood was much less overgrown and dense, to the extent that Gloucester Cathedral could be seen from the base of the tree. Totally impossible now, following years of no serious management.

By the turn of the 20th century it was in poor shape, and the enormous side branches were in danger of falling. The branches were propped up with giant baulks of timber. In 1920 the Gloucestershire Lodge of the Ancient Order of Druids collected its acorns and raised twelve seedlings, and then planted them near the ancient oak.

In 1948 a fire was started inside the hollow trunk, but it still stood until 1960. Vandalism is not new!

A  letter, dated 1926 from Frank Smith, Head Forester, describes it as being ”around 800 years old, standing on comparatively high ground in a small grove of broadleaved timber on a gentle slope facing east”.

If you want a sense of the size, look in the wood for some concrete pillars, about one metre tall. There are three – see if you can find them – and they mark the breadth , the span if you like, of the canopy. Massive!

Copy provided by Geoff Gidley