20 January 2015

The Society’s Role: Helping to Record, Showcase and Preserve Our Trees

One of the Society’s lesser-known roles is to highlight the importance of trees and woodland in our locality and to help in their preservation. Sevenoaks (“The Town in a Wood”) is fortunate in its number and variety of trees, despite the ravages of nature and inroads of man, and our area contains many notable and even nationally important groups and specimens – some several hundreds of years old and with a remarkable history. Many are within easy walking distance of the High Street, in Knole Park.

And of course we have our famous oaks – although the original eponymous seven were lost many centuries ago, and six of the Vine oaks were laid low in the Great Storm of 1987: but replaced with seven more. (So from “Sevenoaks” to “One Oak” and now “Eight Oaks”). Our town became an international symbol for tree loss. (Click here to discover our town’s most interesting trees)

or1hThe seven oaks south of the White Hart Inn – also with an eighth for luck!






Trees are valuable for many reasons – and many are at serious risk. As well as the association of Sevenoaks with trees, and their aesthetic appearance and historical significance, the Society’s role is of particular relevance given the increasing threats to our trees and woods through building and agricultural development, pollution, and pests and diseases such as ash die-back. (As well as ash, oak, horse chestnut and pine are also at risk. Click here for more information).

The Society seeks to:

  • Raise awareness of the significance of trees for our environment and as remarkable and valuable entities in their own right
  • Work with others to identify and record trees of importance because of their location, age, size, appearance, history, condition, vulnerability or other features of note – and to help to protect and preserve them
  • Monitor and seek to influence where appropriate building projects and developers’ proposals for landscaping and the protection of valuable trees
  • Encourage the planting of trees in the locality and their sustainable management
  • Facilitate the gaining and sharing of knowledge and understanding through research, articles, talks and exhibitions – and by developing our web-site database of records and images of our notable trees
  • Develop tree trails to cover the most significant and interesting trees in the neighbourhood, including Knole Park.

In particular the Society wishes to explore ways of working with young people to help them appreciate the worth, beauty and vulnerability of trees in the streets, fields, woods, hedgerows, parks and gardens in their neighbourhood.
We encourage anyone to:

  • send us details of your favourite trees – native or non-native
  • inform us of heritage, champion, ancient or other notable trees (click here for definitions)
  • notify us of any under threat
  • tell us if you wish to use any of our research and exhibition displays.

or1iThe avenue of ancient sweet chestnuts in Woodland Rise, planted in 1509 to commemorate the marriage of Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon.





A National Tree Register

The Society supports the Woodland Trust’s campaign to create a National Tree Register, to enable our trees of special interest to be recognised and given greater protection. To show your support for a register, visit the Woodland Trust’s web-site at

Working With Others

Click here for a list of other organisations involved in the recording and protection of trees, and raising awareness of their importance.

20 January 2015

Some Definitions

“Heritage Trees”: trees which have exceptional value because of their connection with our history and culture, and are considered irreplaceable. They may be of great age or size, have stories and events associated with them, or be special because of their place in the landscape or importance for wildlife.

The term ‘Ancient Tree’ encompasses:

  • Trees of interest biologically, aesthetically or culturally because of their great age
  • Trees in the ancient or third and final stage of their life
  • Trees that are the old relative to others of the same species.

This pollarded oak half-way down the Chestnut Walk is one of many examples in Knole Park:


A ‘Veteran Tree’ is usually in the second or mature stage of its life and has important wildlife and habitat features including; hollowing or associated decay fungi, holes, wounds and large dead branches. It will generally include old trees but also younger, middle aged trees where premature aging characteristics are present.

“Champion Trees” are the largest examples of their species in the area, in terms of height, girth or bulk. Trees may be County, Country or National Champions. In Sevenoaks we have several National Champions, including a Quercus Petraea (Sessile Oak) in Knole Park, with a girth of 5.94m and height of 39m – the tallest in Britain (below).


Other trees may be “Notable“ because of some other significant characteristic: their location, aesthetic appearance, rarity or unusual features, ecological importance, or vulnerability (to human or natural actions).

“Lost Trees” are those which no longer exist but were of particular importance, for example because of their age, size, history, or local significance – such as the six Vine Coronation Oaks laid low in the hurricane of 1987. The survivor is classed as a “Heritage” tree.

Photograph courtesy Bob Ogley

20 January 2015

Working with Others

Below are some of the organisations with whom we collaborate, or share or gather information:

Sevenoaks District Council (Tree Protection Orders)
Sevenoaks Town Council (Council woodlands)
Kent County Council (Countryside Access)
TCV: “The Conservation Volunteers” (volunteer to be part of the Kent Heritage Tree Project to find and measure Heritage Trees, or to help them plant 23,000 new trees in Kent)
The Tree Council (the UK’s lead charity for trees)
The Tree Register (over 200,000 notable trees recorded, including Champion Trees)
The National Trust (with hundreds of superb native and specimen trees in their many properties locally)
The Forestry Commission (the government department responsible for the protection and expansion of Britain’s forests and woodlands)
The Woodland Trust (a mine of information, and campaigners to protect our trees, especially our ancient ones, and to establish a National Tree Register)
Ancient Tree Forum (“Championing the biological, cultural and heritage value of our ancient trees”)

CPRE (see and read “Kent Voice” for local news and issues).

Contact them for more information; search their databases and explore the maps to discover more about the many notable trees in our area.

The accommodating wall of St Nicholas’ church                                Autumn glory in the heart of town