This massive, hollow yew tree stands guards over St Georges churchyard in Crowhurst. Reputedly 4000 years old, the yew was recorded by John Evelyn in his great work Silva: or a discourse of forest-trees and the propagation of timber in his Majestys dominions, which he delivered to the Royal Society, 15 Oct 1662. Evelyn described the tree as measuring ten yards in compass but modern measurement states 34 feet. Further recorded by John Aubrey in his Natural History & Antiquities Of The County Of Surrey (1718/1719) the yew boasts a hollow interior space of about 6 feet, with a doorway and wooden door.
It would seem that at some point the tree was a victim of the English Civil War as a large cannon ball was discovered embedded in its side during the nineteenth century when it was converted to a summer house. Furnished with tables and chairs the tree room suffered further misfortune when a violent storm collapsed the roof in 1845. This fine ancient specimen sports glorious swirling pink bark which some say depicts the face of an old man sticking his tongue out!
The Crowhurst Yew was featured in the BBC series ‘Meetings with Remarkable Trees’ and appears in the book of the series by Thomas Pakenham (1996). It is captured here in two anonymous sepia photographs dated August 1895 (SHC Refs PH/47/9 and PH/47/10), which form part of Surrey History Centres vast photographic archive.
Click here to see the catalogue of the St George, Crowhurst, Parish Records (1567-1951) held at the Surrey History Centre.