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, Surrey
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.


  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
Crowhurst Yew on the map
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Location, GPS coordinates:51.2094 N 0.0103 W
Values:Biology, Visual
Rating:2 out of 10 stars
Species:European Yew (Taxus baccata L.)
Circumference:10.01 m
Where is located?Europe, United Kingdom, England, Surrey, 6 km south from Oxted, in Crowhurst, at the church
Alternate names:

Video of Crowhurst Yew

Richard Vobes, March 2018

Landmarks of Surrey

Founder's Building of Royal Holloway College, Surrey
Founder’s Building of Royal Holloway College / Rwendland, / CC BY-SA 3.0
The cultural and natural heritage of Surrey is very diverse. Especially rich is cultural heritage – this county has numerous valuable country houses, church buildings, monuments of industrial architecture. Beautiful are the parks of Surrey, mysterious and surprising – the artificial caves and passages.


Arve Big Tree, Tasmania, Australia
Arve Big Tree, Tasmania, Australia / TTaylor, Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0
Category includes some of the most impressive and interesting separate trees of the the world. Total number of tree species in the world still is a wild guess – may be 10,000 and may be 100,000 but most likely somewhere in between. Every month there are reported new tree species from the whole world, including the Western Europe.

Recommended books

Yew: A History

The yew is one of the most fascinating and versatile life forms on Earth, botanically rich and intriguing, and culturally almost without comparison. This impressive study of the yew reveals that in history, mythology, religion, folklore, medicine, and warfare, the yew bears timeless witness to a deep relationship with mankind. It is the tree that Darwin often rested beneath and under which he wanted to be buried.

The Ancient Yew: A History of Taxus baccata

The gnarled, immutable yew tree is one of the most evocative sights in the British and Irish language, an evergreen impression of immortality, the tree that provides a living botanical link between our own landscapes and those of the distant past. This book tells the extraordinary story of the yew’s role in the landscape through the millennia, and makes a convincing case for the origins of many of the oldest trees, as markers of the holy places founded by Celtic saints in the early medieval ‘Dark Ages’.

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