Yew Tree

This is one of a series of posts exploring some of the more obscure parts of London and their past. Some of the photographs will appear in my 2022 calendar which will shortly be on sale. Click here for more information and check back to see when the calendar is available.


This ancient Yew Tree stands in the churchyard in the village of Totteridge on the very edges of London. It is reputedly 2000 years old.

If true, it would have seen the coming of the Romans and the growth of Londinium; its decline and regrowth as the City of London, and the emergence of Westminster as a political power base. Londoners fleeing the plague may have come past this way and a year later it would have seen the Great Fire of London. Gradually the metropolis would have crept towards it. Then, in the 20th Century, it would have heard bombers droning overhead, explosions as their load hit their mark, and the responding anti-aircraft fire.

After the war it would see the regrowth of London both outwards, spreading further into the surrounding areas; and upwards with new build reaching ever upwards.

Then, just before this photograph was taken, it would have heard silence as the world locked down in response to the global pandemic.

Whether the tree really is that old it is sobering to think that it has seen so much and looks as if it will continue to remain a witness to the future.

Published by Stephen Taylor

Freelance e-learning developer and instructional designer, photographer and cyclist

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