Queen Elizabeth's Oak


 Photograph by Cliff Wilkinson

Tucked away in a central but secluded location in the centre of the park are the remains of this ancient tree. Despite its name, the oak is believed to have been planted long before the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, probably as far back as the 13th century.  The date has been estimated by a tree-ring analysis undertaken in 2012-13.

Many stories have been told about the tree:  King Henry VIII dancing around the tree with Anne Boleyn, and Queen Elizabeth I sitting in its shade to take refreshment when out in the park. Whether this is true or not, what is certain is that Greenwich was one of the favourite locations of the Tudors and that the 200-year-old tree would have been a noticeable feature of the park during their time.  Another story has it that in the 19th century the hollowed-out trunk, some 7 metres in girth, was used to lock up anyone who had broken park rules.  

By the late 19th century, the tree had died and was only kept upright by a thick covering of ivy. This ancient oak finally toppled over during a storm in June 1991 and assumed the horizontal position it has maintained ever since.

Next to it stands another oak, planted in 1992 by the Duke of Edinburgh. It was donated by the Greenwich Historical Society to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Elizabeth II’s accession. Another oak to celebrate another Elizabeth.