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Yew at Loughton Church, Shropshire

WorldBlue  In short

The giant Yew at Loughton Church is one of the rare yew trees with a scientifically measured age: it is approximately 1000 years old!

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GPS coordinates
52.4435 N 2.5667 W
Location, address
Europe, United Kingdom, England, Shropshire, Wheathill parish, at the eastern end of Loughton church
European Yew (Taxus baccata L.)
10.06 m (1986?)

Map of the site

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WorldYellow In detail

Loughton Church

The current Loughton Church was constructed in 1622 (3.), replacing another structure – a medieval chapel that was first mentioned in written sources in 1291. The current church was restored in 1904 and now needs a thorough restoration again.

Giant yew

Close to the eastern end of the church stands a giant yew tree. It has a single trunk with an enormous hollow. This yew is not high, its trunk is distorted, with bulges, ribs, countless twigs.

The stated circumference of the tree is 10.06 m (33 feet). It seems, fresh measurements of the tree have not been published for long decades, the stated circumference is mentioned already in A. Morton’s “Trees of Shropshire” (1986). Thus, we can assume that now the tree is even larger!

The tree is approximately 1000 years old – and this is a rare case when such a statement is based in data. A sample of the tree was carbon dated at Cambridge University in 1986 (2.) – the sample was 550 years old and the estimated time of 400 years was added as assessment of the time for the tree to grow to the sampling site.

Most likely, a shrine in this location was located before the construction of chapel – and yew was a part of it.

Interestingly, the depiction of this yew – already an enormous tree – is seen in the painting by Rev. Williams in 1791.

  1. Yew/Yews at Loughton – churchyard England, Ancient Yew Group. Accessed on December 11, 2023.
  2. Veteran yew beneath slopes of Brown Clee, Shropshire and Beyond. Accessed on December 11, 2023.
  3. Loughton Parish Church, Wheathill – Shropshire (UA), Historic England. Accessed on December 11, 2023.
Yew at Loughton Church is included in the following article:

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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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