On a warm summer’s day I visited The Tortworth Chestnut, just off a sleepy road somewhere in the heart of Gloucestershire. It’s one of those trees that keeps going, multiple stems branching out in several directions, creating a giant canopy.
It feels a most contented tree, stretching and sprawling in solitude.
Befittingly, this substantial tree has it’s own personal noticeboard AND a stately plaque, although they do contradict each other on age. However both agree it is a very big, very old, sweet chestnut.
The noticeboard displays a biography, which prods me to encounter the work of Johannes Kip (1652 - 1722), an engraver famed for his birds eye view landscapes. He went around taking commissions from land owners, such as Matthew Ducy Morton, of Tortworth Manor. Here, the Tortworth Chestnut can be found near the centre of Kip’s image, within a walled garden. How pleasing, that although no trace of the formal gardens remain today, the Tortworth Chestnut still resides comfortably where it always has, complete with own picket fence and entry in The Tree Council’s ‘Great British Trees’!
‘May man still guard they venerable form, from the rude blasts, and tempestuous storm. Still mayest thou flourish through succeeding time, and last, long last, the wonder of the clime’.