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Crowhurst Yew

Crowhurst Yew, England
Trunk of Crowhurst Yew with door leading into the hollow / Donald Macauley, , CC BY-SA 2.0

Main characteristics

Coordinates: 51.2094 N 0.0103 W
No:211        (list of all attractions)
Values:Biology, Visual
Address:Europe, United Kingdom, England, Surrey, 6 km south from Oxted, in Crowhurst, at the church
Species:European Yew (Taxus baccata L.)
Circumference:10.01 m

One of the most impressive trees in England is Crowhurst Yew. This giant yew tree is "adorned" with somewhat mysterious entrance door into the trunk of the tree.

Yew and church

Like many other giant yew trees, Crowhurst Yew is located in church garden, with gravestones very close to it. First church here was built very long ago - sometimes around 771, also the currently visible church is very old. Nevertheless the tree seems to be considerably older then the earliest church here!

Some consider that the yew is 4000 years old, but this is little likely, more credible is age of some 1500 years.

Tree giant

First known measurements of the girth of this tree come already from 1630 - back then the trunk had a circumference of 9.15 m. Girth gradually increased and in 2006 there was recorded 10.01 m girth at 1.3 m height.

In spite of its incredible age and size, tree looks vital. It has though suffered a lot both from men and elements. Thus - many large branches were broken in the violent storm in 1845.

Crowhurst Yew, England
Crowhurst Yew / Donald Macauley, , CC BY-SA 2.0

Wooden door and room

The fairytale impression of this giant tree is supplemented by... an old door, leading inside.

This door was built into the tree sometimes after 1820 - it is first mentioned in 1850.

Earlier - in 1820 locals hollowed out the bole of the tree. This carving of a hollow was considered to be barbaric already in the 19th century.

The hollow was made large enough to put a table with chairs in it, room was suited for 14 - 15 people. Most likely the hollow was used during the annual Palm Sunday Fayre.

While enlarging the hollow, locals discovered a cannonball, possibly fired in English Civil War (sometimes around 1643) and partly grown up with wood. It is possible that this cannonball was fired towards the farm behind the tree - a staunch Royalist position.


See Crowhurst Yew on the map of Surrey!


  1. Common Yew at TQ39084745, Ancient Tree Hunt, Woodland Trust. Accessed on May 18, 2011
  2. The ancient yew tree of Crowhurst, Surrey, Ancient Yew Group. Accessed on May 18, 2011

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