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Hearts of Oak

28th April 2019 @ 6:06am – by Sarah Callander Beckett
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HEARTS OF OAK

Cheshire's award winning 900 year old Abbey pledges ancient oak to help rebuild Notre Dame

Combermere Abbey, on the Cheshire/Shropshire borders has rallied to contribute a mature oak tree towards the re-building of the roof of Notre Dame cathedral. Over 150 oaks have already been pledged from some of the UK's most famous estates, following an offer from members of Historic Houses, the association for independently owned historic homes and gardens.

The initiative has gained great response as France has already acknowledged a lack of oaks of the right age and an estimate of 1300 mature trees are required. Combermere Abbey, founded in 1133, along with other historic house owners in the region has volunteered valuable trees, planted for timber centuries ago, as a gift from the UK to France for the restoration of the iconic landmark's roof, destroyed by fire earlier this week.

A similar project was initiated after the devastating York Minster fire in 1984 more than forty Historic Houses member places pledged eighty oak trees for the reconstruction efforts, joining donations from the Queen and the Prince of Wales.

In addition to contributing a mature oak, Combermere will be planting 10 oak saplings from the famous Wellington oak which was planted in the park in 1820. It will form part of the Centenary Celebrations at the Abbey this year.

Sarah Callander Beckett, owner of Combermere Abbey said: "This estate was established almost a thousand years ago, similar in age to the trees that were used in the original roof of the cathedral. During the recent restoration of our North Wing we uncovered oaks that were planted in 1300 so it is vital that we continue to plant for the future.

This year we celebrate 100 years of my family's guardianship of the estate, and as such it is simply good practice and exciting to think of the contribution of these wonderful places in the centuries to come. These young oaks will be planted in areas where the public can come and enjoy them including a special Centenary Wood".

James Birch, owner of Doddington Hall, President of Historic Houses, said, 'The fire at Notre Dame is a terrible tragedy. It is also a reminder of how our great buildings provide a cultural back drop to everyday life that is often only recognised when they are threatened. Some of our members have first-hand experience of the damage and destruction of catastrophic fires. It's fitting that we would offer to help restore such an important part of the world's heritage.'

The trees, from sustainable forestry and already destined for use as commercial timber, are estimated to have a combined market value of well over £100,000. But the donors are keen to emphasise that the timbers used in buildings like Notre Dame are about something that money alone can't buy.

Combermere Abbey is a medieval and Gothic country home set in 1050 acres of woodland, farmland and lakes. Following a major restoration project by the current owner, the run-down estate was saved from ruin and transformed into an idyllic country retreat and wedding venue. With a range of accommodation on offer, Combermere Abbey also allows guests the opportunity to explore and enjoy its grounds including; magical woodlands surrounding the serene mere, a fully restored Victorian Walled Gardens and the world's only Fruit Tree Maze with Edwardian Glasshouse. Details on weddings, accommodation and open days can be found
here www.combermereabbey.co.uk.


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