an oak tree and several large branches from other oak trees were
brought along Northwich Road by the recent
gales. As they were probably planted when the turn-pike road
was built around 1780 they were nearing their life span of 250 years
- though some oaks have been dated to 800 years or more, preserved
as historic shrines.
'Hearts of oak are our ships. Hearts of
oak are our men'. The sturdy oak has a place deep in English
affections. Forests were felled for ship building when as many as
3,000 mature trees could be used in one man o' war of Nelson's fleet,
England's 'wooden wall'. One of the many toasts of Knutsford's King
and Constitution club was, 'May England flourish
like the mighty oak and her enemies fall like its leaves'.
Oak timbers for houses were pegged together, with numbers scratched
on the beams to show masons how to match up the joints, some of
these can be found in the timbers on the side wall of the White
Lion. Broad Oak Lane
in Mobberley had a venerable tree with a split, hollow trunk large
enough to shelter courting couples but it became infested with rats
and a fire lit to exterminate them finished the tree off too!
The two varieties of native oak have been augmented by three introduced
species. The word acorn comes from Scandinavian for ek korn meaning
seed, which provided winter fodder for pigs. The tree bark was used
Earthquakes have made news recently.
In 1883 John Philip Green died in an earthquake in Ischia, Italy,which
killed thousands. He was listed as owner of Heathfield
in the 1881 census but did not spend much time there, he had been
a judge in India until ill health caused his retirement after which
he lived mostly near Naples with his Italian wife. Heathfield
Square takes its name from the house Heathfield which stood
near that area, it was the home, for many years, of the Rev.
Henry Green , father of John Philip, minister of Brook Street
Chapel, author of the indispensable history of Knutsford and school
Another bonfire night has come and gone but church wardens do not
now pay for ale and gunpowder and bell ringing to celebrate it as
they used to. It was considered patriotic.
I must go in search of the Marton Oak
which Alfred Coward described in his book Picturesque Cheshire published
in 1903. It was then shored up with props, wide rather than
tall and used for storing farm implements in its hollow centre.
It had also been used by geese. This year it was chosen as one of
fifty trees nationwide to commemorate the Queen's Jubilee.
Joan Leach 11/11/02