Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Enchanted elm

Posted on by royvickery |

St Michael and All Angels, the parish church of Taddington, Derbyshire, contains a carved elm (Ulmus) trunk with many nails hammered into it.

According to laminated sheets placed on the trunk:

‘The Enchanted Elm                                                                                                   A few years ago, during a holiday in France, one of our villagers entered a church, and featured in a side aisle was a large unadorned piece of tree trunk.  A notice inviting visitors to hammer a nail into it and then make a donation for church funds, was displayed by the tree.  It was thought this idea could be transported to our own Well dressing and Flower Festival here in Taddington.  As our theme for that particular year (2009) was ‘The Tree of Life’ it seemed appropriate to try out this new money raising venture.               An elm tree, grown locally, but sadly laid waste due to the dreaded Dutch Elm disease, was made available, thanks to a local farmer.  Rather than just having a tree trunk it was decided some carvings would add interest for our visitors.                                                                                                                      The first carving was of the church’s patron saint, Saint Michael …  Sadly, at that time, a young Taddington young mother, Vanessa, died.  Known for her kindness and cheerful disposition it was agreed that a commemoration was in order and as such, a lion symbolising the courage she showed during her illness would be a worthy carving to dedicate to her.  This still left one area uncarved so it was decided that the Derbyshire Coat of Arms would be an appropriate subject.  The tree was now completed.  Since 2009 this elm has raised over £3435 for our church.                                                                     Sadly, last November, James Whitby, the man who brought this fundraising idea to fruitition by designing and carving this magnificent trunk of elm died …   As you hammer a nail and make your donation, please remember James (Jim) Whitby (1937-2018).’

Photographed August 2023.

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