Crowhurst Yew, Surrey

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

WorldBlue  In short

An amazing tree is Crowhurst Yew. This giant yew tree is "adorned" with a somewhat mysterious entrance door into the trunk of the tree.

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GPS coordinates
51.2094 N 0.0103 W
Location, address
Europe, United Kingdom, England, Surrey, 6 km south from Oxted, in Crowhurst, at the church
European Yew (Taxus baccata L.)
10.24 m (2023, at 1.3 m, 2.)

Map of the site

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WorldYellow In detail

Crowhurst Yew and church

Like many other giant yew trees, Crowhurst Yew is located in a church garden, with gravestones very close to it. The first church here was built very long ago – sometimes around 771. The current church is very old as well. Nevertheless, the tree seems to be considerably older than the earliest church here!

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

Tree giant

The first known measurements of the girth of Crowhurst Yew come already from 1630 when the measured girth was 9.1 m. In 1680 the measurements had a less impressive result of 8.15 m. Girth gradually increased and in 2006 at the height of 1.3 the girth was 9.6 m (3). In 2023 it increased further to 10.24 m! (3.).

In spite of its incredible age and size, the 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 sometime 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, the 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 the 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.

There is another Crowhurst Yew! In East Sussex is a village of Crowhurst and at its church also stands a gorgeous, giant yew tree with a circumference of 9.08 m!


  1. Common Yew at TQ39084745, Ancient Tree Hunt, Woodland Trust. Accessed on May 18, 2011
  2. European Yew close to St. Georges’ church, Crowhurst, England, United Kingdom, Monumental Trees. Accessed on December 27, 2022
Crowhurst Yew is included in the following article:

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WorldYellow 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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