06 The Selborne Yew

In the village churchyard the remains of a great yew tree still stand, in a slightly evolved format. This tree of local renown was struck by violent storms in 1990 and blew over. Villagers made concerted efforts to resurrect it without success. When digging, medieval pottery and human remains were found entwined amongst the roots. Today within the large ‘trunk stump’ a Silver Birch, Honeysuckle and Blackberry bush have taken residence, and, just recently, fresh shoots of the yew itself have sprung forth. 

Many of the buildings in Selborne have these chunky nails (?) in the mortar between stones. I am quite taken by them, I really should google what they are.

The Hampshire village of Selborne was home to Gilbert White, a pioneering naturalist of the 18th century. White spent his life studying with great fascination and attention to detail the creatures, birds and ecology of his local area. His findings are collected in The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, continuously in print since its first publication in 1789.

Here's a little film inspired by my visit to Gilbert White's gardens. 

A quick visit with Gilbert White from kate anderson on Vimeo.

I really recommend the book if you enjoy the natural world! It’s one you can dip in and out of and White’s passionate curiosity abounds. Also, through the years many wonderful artists have been commissioned to illustrate editions so you can even choose your favourite. I have now got myself a copy with brusque and scraggly John Piper drawings, but I must thank Don and Diana Gilder for lending me their copy for over a year.
Get a taste of his writings at this lovely online project transcribing his journals: https://naturalhistoryofselborne.com/