Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

QUERY: Evergreen oaks in churchyards

001From Lynne Farrell:
Holm oak (also known as evergreen oak, Quercus ilex) in Huntingdonshire is nearly all in old gardens and churchyards.
Was it associated with churchyards because of its evergreen nature and hence eternal life?

1. I suspect that evergreen oak was simply a fashionable tree in Victorian times. It is abundant around Queen Victoria’s home, Osborne House, on the Isle of Wight, which was built between 1845 and 1851 and where she died in January 1901 [RV, 17 February 2011].

2.  In Brompton Cemetery, Four self-guided walks, published by The Royal Parks in 2021,  holm oak is ‘a sacred tree that’s one of the few evergreen oaks in Britain … and were planted to keep away evil spirits.  The ancient Greeks used the leaves to tell the future.  The trees also symbolise strength and long life, and the wood is certainly very hard and strong’.

Image: beside the Basingstoke Canal, Woking, Surrey; September 2015.

Updated 28 February 2022.

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