Ankerwycke Yew – Windsor and Maidenhead, England - Atlas Obscura
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Windsor and Maidenhead, England

Ankerwycke Yew

One of the oldest trees in Britain may have been witness to some of the country's formative moments. 

Growing out of a flood plain of the river Thames, the gnarled and ancient Ankerwycke Yew is famous not just for its age, but also for the important historical moments that supposedly took place at the site. 

Officially listed as a Great British Tree, the Ankerwycke Yew is believed to be between 1,400- 2,000 years old. Growing in the grounds of an old nunnery, the arbor has grown huge and wild over the centuries. The massive trunk, which appears to be comprised of countless smaller trunks melted together, is a whopping 26 feet in diameter and topped by a shaggy canopy of pine needles.

It may not be the most photogenic arbor in the land, but it may have been present at some of the country’s most historic moments. It is widely understood that the sealing of the Magna Carta took place in the shadow of the yew’s branches, and a more apocryphal story says that Henry the VIII met his future wife Anne Boleyn near the tree as well.

Both due to its age and its infamy the tree is a nationally protected landmark and features a vague commemorative plaque nearby. The tree is still alive and well and just waiting for the next monumental meeting beneath its needles.

Know Before You Go

Take Staines Road to Magna Carta Lane. On Magna Carta Lane, branch off to the left when passing Ankerwyke Farm. Park at the end of the lane and proceed on foot.You can follow the circular walk by following the circle signs, or cut out most of the walk . As you cross the line of large poplar turn right under the poplar trees and the yew is a very short walk on the left.