The History of Badsey's Wellingtonia Tree
It is more than twenty years since Badsey's Wellingtonia tree was felled. The Wellingtonia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) is known in America as the sequoia, or 'big tree'. The sequoia was discovered in 1841 growing on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada's, in California. It was possibly a sapling from one of these giants which was bought over to England in the 1850's and planted in the garden of what is now Pool House, the fine Georgian house which stands to the north of the church in High Street.
During its 130 year life, the Wellingtonia, managed to tower above the church reaching a height of 116ft. It was a focal point in the village and could be seen from many miles. In fact during the last war it was used by pilots using local aerodromes as one of their positional markers. Its downfall came in 1978 when the prolonged drought led to rot setting into the lower part of the trunk. An inspection of the decaying tree two years later sealed its fate, and the tree was felled by Richard Coles of Chipping Campden in November 1980.
On several occasions local men had climbed the tree, usually clandestinely, to attach a flagpole to the crown of the tree. In 1935, Phil Sparrow and ‘Buster’ Mustoe climbed up to fix a flag to the tree-top to mark the silver jubilee of George V. In 1953 Les Williams ascended the giant tree to tie a broomstick holding the flag to the top branch to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, while Reg Welch and Bert Evans stood watch below. And finally in 1977, for the Queens silver jubilee, Lol Bindoff, Clint Evans and two others fixed a 37ft pole holding the flag to the tree. Below is a poem by Norman Cleaver of this final ascent of the tree called Hoisting the Jubilee Jack.
The Round o’ Gras was the place where this great climb was
(The flag on this final climb stayed aloft for 3 months before a couple of passing steeplejacks fetched it down at the request of the owner of Pool House, Mr. A. M. C. Lewis.)
Flags fly from the tree and the church for the Silver Jubilee in June
1977. Photograph kindly loaned by Chris Helm.
Letters from Don Wasley (1918 - 2000) and
Roy Page about life in Badsey and Aldington with an account of climbing
the tree in the 1930s.
Pat Goldstraw's photograph of the tree being felled in 1980.
Updated 29th October 2004. If you have any further information regarding Badsey's Wellingtonia then please contact Will Dallimore Will@badsey.net