Leatherhead - Randalls Park Cemetery (Surrey)
|Thanks to Stephen who found this web site while trying to research a tree he discovered while walking during his lunch break. He says, "I am an American, who grew up in California, and whose family often spent our holidays in Sequoia National Park. I know a Sequoia when I see one!
I was walking through the Randalls Park Cemetery in Leatherhead, Surrey and saw the distinctive red bark, spiral, spikey needles and rounded crown on an impressively large tree. I told my friend with whom I was out for my walk that it had to be a redwood or a Sequoia. The more I looked at it, the more things about it that I checked, the more I was convinced of this. Because it was so large and clearly matured, I knew it had to be over 100 years old, but how would such a tree get to England, why and when?
I discovered that this cemetery had been part of a noble estate in the 19th Century, and that Queen Victoria had had some sort of celebration on the site during her reign. I guess I could imagine that someone had imported a sapling or seed from California sometime late in that century and brought it here. Do you know about this tree and how it got here?"
Well spotted! Giant Sequoia (Giant Redwood as we tend to call them in the UK) were first brought to the UK as seeds around 1852. The Victorians developed a fascination for them and quite a few were planted in grounds of stately homes and in church yards. Consequently most of the trees I encounter are around 150 years old and usually marvellous looking mature trees such as the one you found. If you wanted to read a bit more information have a look on these pages: News and First Encounters
Interest seemed to wane towards the end of the Victorian era so there aren't quite as many from around 1900. However there does seem to have been a resurgence of interest over the past few decades and I do encounter a number of young trees, usually planted by councils. Have a look on the Locations section of the Redwood World website and you will see many more all over the country. You may be interested in the avenues in Surrey, also there is an avenue in Berkshire where I have a picture taken in 1927 and one taken in 2004. Finchampstead Avenue
Stephen wrote again to say that the Redwoods he found "are on the cemetery grounds near the intersection of Randall Road and Springfield Drive.
I say trees because today when I went back, it looked like there was a much smaller one behind the one I discovered the other day. I am convinced they are both redwoods, but the smaller one is not yet fully mature. The bark is certainly the same kind of red Styrofoam type of bark, but it has not quite gotten the same billowy shape that the sequoia has. Perhaps it is not a sequoia, but a different species of redwood. Because it is much smaller, either it was planted much later (perhaps as much as 100 years later), or it is a daughter seedling. As I said, it could be a different species, and I have not been able to find an official of the cemetery to ask about them, yet.
The big one is about 4 feet across at the base. Awesome tree, already.
I was showing the pictures to my colleague. He told me he was visiting a friend of his in Weybridge and had been admiring a tree in his yard, noticing its unusual color and shape and size, and asked his friend if he knew what kind of tree it was. His friend did not know. He took a picture of it, and showed it to me, and it also certainly was a sequoia. I am so amazed! These trees are huge, they have already been here for over a century and a half! Like I said, I have been to Sequoia National Park countless times when I was young, and I never expected to see anything like them anywhere else in the world."
Yes Stephen, I am fairly sure the other one is also a Giant Redwood. I hope you encounter many more in the UK!