The Hundred Guinea Oak at the National Trust’s The Vyne in Basingstoke

“This ancient oak tree, thought to be more than 650 years old, owes its long life to William John Chute, who opened The Vyne during the 19th Century.

It’s believed that the tree gained its name after he refused to sell it to a naval agent looking for timber at the time of the Battle of Trafalgar. When Chute refused the first offer of £100, the agent returned the following day and offered one hundred guineas*.  According to diary entries written at the time, Chute said “any tree that increases in value by £5 overnight is too valuable an investment to lose”.

The hundred guinea oak has been present for many key moments in The Vyne’s history. In Tudor times, it saw royal visitors, including Hendry VIII with Catherine of Aragon, and later with Anne Boleyn. And during the Second World War, it witnessed the Estate being used to shelter evacuees.

Over its lifetime, the tree has also supported a variety of wildlife. It’s a favourite resting place for jackdaws and nuthatches. and squirrels can frequently be seen moving around the branches.

Fungal decay has slowly hollowed out the trunk which provides shelter for invertebrates and bats.

How we care for the tree:  Rare and ancient trees need special care. To make sure it can withstand bad weather, we tested the tree by hooking it up to movement sensors and exerting a force that monitors its position and tells us how it fares against a non-prevailing wind.

We also treat the roots to a lovingly deep layer of oak wood chip and a solution of compost steeped in microbes. This process improves the air in the soil and makes the nutrients more easily absorbed by the tree”

(taken from the information board in front of the tree)

*A guinea was worth £1,1s (one pound and one shilling). This is the same as £1.05 in modern money, and to this day guineas are used to sell horses.

Very approximately, £100 in 1850 is equivalent in purchasing power to just over £17,000 today.


Tree Survey followed by take down of Holm Oak tree from the car park at a soon-to-open children’s home in Westbury

Clear results were showing the cross-section of decay present in a tree removed from the car park of a soon-to-open children’s home in Westbury in the grounds of the former Chalford House Hotel. This was all confirmed in the PICUS report.  As you can see, the tree looked perfectly healthy from the outside but had to be taken down as it was unsafe, especially over a car park.  And we needed to wait until the birds had finished nesting to undertake the work.

Well done by all involved; the new spider MEWP proving its worth, along with the timber crane o remove the timber; no heavy lifting at CC Ltd!

Removal of 100 ft Cedar of Lebanon in Worton

Sad to see this go –  a local landmark coming down in Worton due to decay.

The decay, which you can see in the photo, was detected in the base of this 100 ft Cedar of Lebanon.  Using the Picus Sonic Tomograph, the decay was clear.  

This was the last one of six that were there before the houses were built on Cedar Close; now, perhaps Cedar-less Close!

The trunk was taken down to the West Country for wood carving into something quite unique.  Howard & Sons undertook the haulage

A replacement tree has been planted.  

For details of our tree surveys see here

And for the case study using the Picus Sonic Tomograph, please see here

And our post in November 2022 will tell you about its wonderful transformation into this tabletop.

Tree survey health safety tree works Tockington Manor School Oct 2017

Rich and Geoff at Tockington Manor School carrying out 2 weeks of health and safety tree works within the school grounds

Tree survey health safety tree works Tockington Manor School Oct 2017


Deadwood removal going on a pace at Tockington Manor in the sunshine pics of Geoff and Trevor apparently Rich has even got off the ground!

Deadwood removal going on a pace at Tockington Manor in the sunshine pics of Geoff and Trevor apparently Rich has even got off the ground !

Picus technology

We returned to Manton to check the health of an ailing beech tree using PICUS technology.

The PICUS Sonic Tomograph is used for non-invasive tree risk assessments in order to measure the thickness of the residual wall of trees with internal defects such as cavities or decay.  See more information here.

We were concerned with the tree because of the large fungi brackets on one side.  And what the assessment showed was that the tree was rotten in the middle and sadly had to be removed for safety reasons.  It’s like giving the tree an MRI scan. Amazing bit of kit.

Picus technology

EssentialArb article

Did you see our article in essentialARB?

It was in the Autumn edition, on pages 38-39 and is a snapshot of what we do.
“If there’s ever a job advert for someone to look after a war zone, then William Warden has to be the man for the job.  Who else has a CV that takes in looking after the battlegrounds of Salisbury Plain, surrounded by tanks, troops and helicopters to say nothing of fast jets plying their trade?  And if the mulcher stops dead in its tracks, then the culprit is probably an old shell or maybe a piece of tank track”…
Read the article here

Wind blown Silver Birch tree in Edington

This image illustrates the importance of getting your trees surveyed…. This is taken at the rear of Three Daggers Pub in Edington.  Just imagine if it hadn’t been for the Beech Tree stopping the Silver Birch from crashing onto the building.  What mess and structural damage would have been caused, let alone perhaps damage to life and limb…

wind-blown silver birch tree Edington