Tuesday 27 February 2024
8 C

Major Oak and Bramley saplings planted in US ambassador’s garden

Saplings from two of Nottinghamshire’s most iconic trees have been planted in the garden of the US Ambassador’s official residence at Winfield House in London following a special ceremony on Friday.

A sapling grafted from the original Bramley Apple tree in Southwell and a Sherwood Oak sapling grown from an acorn of the historic Major Oak were presented by the outgoing High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire, Paul Southby.

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Nottinghamshire County Council Chairman, Councillor Roger Jackson, with the High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire, Paul Southby, at Winfield House.

The Bramley’s new home is next to a fruit tree planted by Michelle Obama, the former First Lady of the US, while the Oak is in a clearing where a large Ash tree had fallen.

Nottingham Trent University donated the Bramley sapling, while the Oak sapling has been provided by the Sherwood Forest Trust.

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he US Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission, Matt Palmer, with the High Sheriff, Paul Southby.

Mr Southby organised the landmark event six years after officials from Nottinghamshire first began to establish links with the US Embassy to help achieve a better working relationship between Robin Hood’s County and America.

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The process was boosted in its early stages by the enthusiasm for his home county of John Lunt, who is originally from Mansfield and has worked for more than 20 years at the US Embassy. Mr Lunt and the High Sheriff have stayed in touch since the county’s links with the US Embassy were first established.

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Nottinghamshire County Council Chairman, Councillor Roger Jackson, helps to plant one of the saplings.

Now it is hoped the ‘special friendship’ between the US and Nottinghamshire will be strengthened further through the donation of the two saplings.

Mr Southby said:

“There was some discussion in 2017 of the county making a donation of something appropriate as a sign of permanent friendship with the US Embassy and the US Ambassador to the UK.

“At that time the project did not bear fruit, but I have made it my business during my year as High Sheriff, ably assisted by Embassy staff, to finish it off.

“Therefore, I was absolutely delighted with the success of Friday’s event and how warmly we were welcomed by our friends at the Embassy and the Ambassador’s residence, who were very appreciative of our donation and the presence of the Sheriff; inevitably our very own legendary outlaw, Robin Hood, was mentioned many times!

“The fact that the Bramley sapling is now next to a fruit tree planted by Michelle Obama highlights the significance of what I hope will be a lasting friendship between Nottinghamshire and the US.

“It was also an immense privilege to sign the visitor book in my official capacity and I was deeply honoured to leave my mark in the company of the Queen, Prince Charles – as he was at the time he signed – President George W. Bush, President Barack Obama and Mrs Obama and President Joe Biden.

“The planting ceremony is a fitting end to my year as the High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire. I would like to thank everybody involved for making this possible, including Nottingham Trent University and the Sherwood Forest Trust for donating the saplings.”

The High Sheriff was joined at the planting ceremony by Nottinghamshire County Council Chairman, Councillor Roger Jackson, Dr Patrick Candler, Chief Executive Officer of Sherwood Forest Trust, and his wife Sandi Henson.

It was also attended by the US agricultural attaché to the UK, Cynthia Guven.

Councillor Roger Jackson said:

“It was a great honour to represent the County Council at Friday’s event to help to tell the story of Nottinghamshire and why it’s such a wonderful county rich in history.

“The Major Oak and the original Bramley Apple tree are historic landmarks which are known globally for their significance, so it’s fitting that a sapling from each has been planted at the Ambassador’s official residence.

“It gave me immense pleasure to join the High Sheriff at the special ceremony which enabled us to strengthen Nottinghamshire’s relationship with our friends from America, which goes back hundreds of years through the story of the Mayflower Pilgrims, as well as celebrating two very special local icons.”

The US Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission, Matt Palmer, said: “It was an honour to welcome the Nottinghamshire delegation for the tree planting ceremony at our Ambassador’s official residence, Winfield House. We’re looking forward to seeing the trees grow as strong as our Special Relationship.”

Dr Candler said: “The Sherwood Forest Trust is delighted to have been asked by the High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire to provide a Sherwood Forest oak to be planted at the United States Ambassador’s official residence in London.

“The young oak has been grown from an acorn of the Major Oak – a mighty forest veteran said to be over 1,000 years old and still flourishing.

“It was once voted ‘England’s Most Loved Tree’ and has long been a tourist landmark in what is today the Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve.

“The Sherwood Forest Trust is a Nottinghamshire-based conservation charity which has worked for over 30 years to protect, conserve and celebrate England’s most iconic forest. The sapling has been nurtured by staff and volunteers at the Trust’s Community Tree Nursery in Sherwood Forest.

“We hope that in the years to come, the sapling will grow into a sturdy tree that will bring much pleasure and benefit to the US Ambassador and visitors to Winfield House.”

Professor Edward Peck, President and Vice-Chancellor of Nottingham Trent University, said: “NTU has been custodian of the original Bramley apple tree, situated near to our Brackenhurst Campus in Southwell for many years. The Bramley is a much-loved and cherished part of local history and heritage and we are delighted to be able to play a role in helping celebrate that.

“Last year, the tree was chosen as part of a nationwide network of 70 ancient trees to be dedicated to the late Queen in celebration of the Platinum Jubilee. We are happy to mark further the Bramley’s local, national, and international significance by donating a graft from the original tree for the US Ambassador’s garden in London.”

Nottinghamshire has had historical links with America for centuries, primarily through the Mayflower Pilgrims who helped lay the foundations of the US when they arrived there on the Mayflower ship in 1620.

It is thought 25 million Americans descend from the 102 passengers of the Mayflower – with many of the leading figures of the group from Nottinghamshire.

Winfield House boasts the second largest private garden in London after Buckingham Palace and has 12 acres of garden.

It was built for the American heiress Barbara Woolworth Hutton, who was at one time married to actor Cary Grant.

During the Second World War the property was used as an RAF aircrew reception centre and, afterwards, was given to the US Government to be used as the official residence of the American Ambassador to the Court of St James’s for the token price of one dollar.

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