Plant-Lore

Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Trees on atheists’ graves

Of the three atheists’ graves recorded in Hertfordshire early in the twentieth century, two were enclosed in substantial iron railings, inside which trees grew.  Lady Anne Grimston, buried at Tewin, is said to have declared that in the unlikely event of Christian teachings being correct trees would grow from her grave; at present a sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus), grows from it.

As pointed out in the account of Lady Anne’s grave on this website, placing railings on the grave would probably encourage the growth of trees, as they would protect it from being mowed or being grazed.  Bearing this in mind, a grave in the well-tended churchyard of St Peter and St Paul’s church, Ormskirk, Lancashire, vividly demonstrates what happens when a grave is fenced.  This grave has two birches (Betula pendula) and an ash (Fraxinus excelsior) tree growing on it; if you don’t want trees to grow it’s best to leave your grave unfenced.

Photographed November 2018.

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