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More Ancient Mulberry Trees

June 13, 2015
by the gentle author

In Preachers’ Court

The tree at the back of this magnificent array of foliage is one of the pair of ancient black Mulberries that sit on either side of the lawn at Charterhouse. Yet even before I reached this spectacular destination, I had photographed a distinguished specimen growing by the wall in a shady corner of Bunhill Fields.

I set out from Spitalfields heading west this week for an afternoon’s walk to add more ancient Mulberries to my collection that began in April when I photographed the oldest Mulberry in the East End in the grounds of the former London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green, has included a trip to Syon to pay homage to the oldest Mulberry in Britain as well as a foray across the river to record the venerable specimens in South London.

Hilary Haydon, one of the brothers, greeted me at the gatehouse at three o’clock and led me through to Preachers’ Court where two huge Mulberries flourish enshrined among the luxuriant and imaginative planting that is characteristic of the gardens at Charterhouse, which are looking their very best this week.

Sensibly, Hilary settled down with a book on a bench in the sun and left me to dance around the trees with my camera to discover the best angles and catch the ideal light as the June clouds scudded overhead. The surrounding buildings of Preachers’ Court date from 1531 and there is no reason to suggest the gnarled Mulberries, twisted over with age and propped up by supports, may not be of similar age.

Hilary & I shook hands at the gatehouse upon my departure, where a couple of Mulberries grow inside the wall and reach up over the boundary, only to have their limbs lopped off like Smithfield martyrs. From there, I walked down through the meat market and across Hatton Garden towards Fleet St and Middle Temple where a couple of Mulberries face each other at skewed angles across the pond in the shade of Fountain Court.

Then I strolled off to search further, now that my instinct for seeking Mulberries is attuned, and – sure enough – I discovered another tree growing in the private garden of King’s Bench Walk, where I peered through the elegant railings to capture an image of this alluring specimen supported by iron poles and sequestered beyond reach.

Old Mulberry in Bunhill Fields Cemetery

Mulberry at Charterhouse

Trunk of the oldest Mulberry at Charterhouse

Another Mulberry at Charterhouse

Mulberries growing over the wall at Charterhouse

Pair of Mulberries in Fountain Court, Middle Temple

Mulberry with Middle Temple Hall in the background

Secret Mulberry in the private garden at King’s Bench Walk

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10 Responses leave one →
  1. Bernadette Hancock permalink
    June 13, 2015

    I live in Bartholomew Close overlooking the rear church garden of St Bartholomew the Great. The garden is in need of some tlc, which the Beadle at Founders (Leo) and I are providing, but in the middle there is a very large Mulberry. Gareth from Open Spaces was here recently shaping an Elder which was trying to grow into one of my neighbours’ first floor windows. Gareth said the Mulberry, whilst not as ancient as some around here, was in great shape. I’m so lucky to have a view of it from my window.
    I went to Charterhouse on their recent Open gardens evening. Their gardens are magnificent. Thanks for featuring.

  2. rae donaldson permalink
    June 13, 2015

    These luminous pictures have brought a tear to my eye this morning. Thank you!

  3. Pamela V. Cullen permalink
    June 13, 2015

    I recall an old mulberry at Ingatestone Hall in Essex, eating the mulberries from it and getting very stained with the juice! It is near the Hall in a courtyard. I shall now have to start looking for them here in France!

  4. June 13, 2015

    May I introduce again? MY TREE, a more than 500 years old Oak Tree at the Sensenstein near Kassel, a natural monument. He has lost some larger branches during the last thunderstorms. But that doesn’t bother him. He has survived 500 years of human history!

    Love & Peace

  5. June 13, 2015

    Wonderful as usual: but by a wild coincidence, I’ve just been reading ‘The Ingenious Mr Fairchild’ by Michael Leapman (Fairchild being of course the famous Hoxton gardener about whom you wrote a few weeks ago). According to Leapman, in 1724 Fairchild and other gardeners reported to the Master of the Charterhouse that two more gardeners should be employed (there was only one at the time) in order to supply the institution with all the vegetables needed: the estimated cost of all proposed changes would be £31.0.6d. It looks as though the recommendation was not acted upon…

  6. Heather Fenton permalink
    June 13, 2015

    I understand that there is a Mulberry tree in the garden of the Vicarage for St mark’s Kennington. do you know about this?

  7. June 13, 2015

    There is a mulberry UK website, but it hasn’t got anywhere near all. I know one near Leigh on Sea station and have just seen a couple at Kew. Alas, I had to visit the London Chest Hospital several times but didn’t know about the tree. Now I go to Barts and make do with the Caucasion wingnuts in Smithfield.

  8. June 15, 2015

    My favourite mulberry trees are the ones in West Square, a lovely little oasis of foliage and flowers, only a few minutes walk from the grime and gridlock of Elephant & Castle.

  9. Paul Shutler permalink
    July 31, 2015

    Keep up the good work, there are few things more humbling than being in the presence of an ancient Mulberry tree.

  10. Rachelle marks permalink
    September 4, 2015

    There was one in my garden in Jane at now mulberry school

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