Tree Tours Stories

Films and words documenting the history and culture of trees by AST members

THE BEECH AVENUE.
KINGSTON LACY,
DORSET. (approx. 2 miles long).

Born in 1776, William John Bankes was as a young man an aide-de-camp to the Duke of Wellington and became an active Member of Parliament. In 1835 he inherited Kingston Lacy. A good friend of Lord Byron from Cambridge days, he enjoyed liaisons with men and women indiscriminately and in 1841 he had to go into exile after being caught with a guardsman in St James’s Park.
While in residence at Kingston Lacy, William John made many changes, including the installation of the Egyptian obelisk that may be seen in the gardens to this day. One of the first things he did was to plant a beech avenue lining the road from near the house’s entrance drive to beyond Badbury Rings. The road was a turnpike, and the Bankes family enjoyed the revenue from it. The avenue was a birthday gift to William John’s mother, Frances, and there were 365 trees on one side of the road for each day of the year and 366 on the other, for a leap year.
Today the road is the B3082, the main route between Wimborne and Blandford. The trees are not surprisingly showing signs of age and disease. The National Trust have so far replaced some seventy of them with hornbeams, which are just as attractive but are better able to withstand the disadvantages of being alongside a busy road.

This a great film lasting nearly 4 mins. Beautifully filmed and very atmospheric. "Walking through the haunted woods and grounds of Grim’s Dyke on a foggy autumn morning ~ once the home of W.S Gilbert from Gilbert & Sullivan.The land that's known as ‘Grim’s Ditch’ – a name which now refers to Iron Age earthworks that can be found across southern England. Dated to the fifth and sixth centuries, if not even further back, the earthwork consists of a V-shaped ditch that has visible remains stretching from Pinner Green to Harrow Weald Common – a swathe of land on which the estate was eventually built.This ditch is believed to have been a defensive structure built by the Catuvellauni tribe to aid in the ongoing struggle at the time with the Roman forces in the region. As one of the most powerful Celtic tribes in southern Britain, with territory extending as far as the northern bank of the Thames to what is modern-day Hertfordshire, the Catuvellauni were leaders of the opposition to the Roman invasion until their eventual defeat and subjugation in the early first century. Grim’s Dyke remains one of the few remaining monuments to this prehistoric struggle – one which played a key role in shaping the foundations of the nation today."

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