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An historic fern-leaved beech enveloping the remains of one of the first Cistercian abbeys in Wales has been crowned Wales Tree of the Year 2020.

The Chapter House Tree beat off competition from five other finalists in an online vote run by Coed Cadw, the Woodland Trust in Wales.

Located within Margam Park, Port Talbot its canopy has provided shelter to visitors for many years – from Victorian tea parties to a favourite summer picnic spot for present day visitors.

David Elward, who nominated the tree, said:

“I’ve been visiting Margam Park since I was a schoolboy, and this famous beech tree has been a reliable constant. Standing under its sweeping canopy, adjacent to the 12th Century Cistercian monastery and ruins, feels like you’re in a secret and magically historic space – nature’s version of a ‘cwtch’. It’s one of my favourite places to photograph.”

It seems David isn’t alone, with the tree providing an atmospheric backdrop featuring in TV and film productions from Dr Who and Songs of Praise with Sir Bryn Terfel to the recent Netflix blockbuster series Sex Education.

The winning tree will receive a £1000 Care Award thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery. This can be spent on work to improve its health, signage or a public celebration.

Will Humpington, advisor of climate change & environmental programmes at People's Postcode Lottery said:

“I’m really pleased our players are supporting the Tree of the Year competitions, which continue to build a deeper connection between people and the nature that’s around them. The stories behind this year’s winners demonstrate just how much people love trees, and the time and energy they are prepared to invest in protecting them. It shows people have special connections with some wonderful trees in all types of neighbourhoods, from remote valleys to city streets.”

The first and second runners up are:

  • The Monmouth Catalpa Tree: an Indian bean tree in Monmouth’s St James square planted in 1900. In 2006 it was declared the oldest and largest of its species in the UK.
  • The Chirk Castle Sweet Chestnut: an absolutely majestic ancient tree. The limbs are wide, the bark gnarled and wrinkled with character and magic, most of all – it must hold centuries of wisdom. It’s a beast of a tree in both its history and size!

The competition took public nominations earlier in the year. A panel of judges convened by Coed Cadw, the Woodland Trust in Wales then chose six finalists to go to the public online vote.

Votes were received as follows:

  • The Chapter House tree: 1118
  • The Monmouth Catalpa tree: 833 votes
  • Chirk Castle Sweet Chestnut: 638
  • The Beech of Many Faces: 482
  • The Overton Yew: 440
  • The Sychbant Oak: 161.

Trees of the year are also being announced in England and Scotland. The Scottish winner is ‘The Survivor’ at Carrifran Valley. The English winner is the Happy Man Tree in Hackney.

An overall UK winner will be chosen later this year, and will go forward into the European tree of the year competition.

Notes to editors

For media enquiries contact Llinos Humphreys, communications and engagement manager on 0343 770 5629, 07824 858321 or llinoshumphreys@woodlandtrust.org.uk

or rhe Woodland Trust press office on 01476 581121 or media@woodlandtrust.org.uk

Woodland Trust (Coed Cadw) is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife.

The Trust has three key aims: 

  1. protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable
  2. restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life
  3. plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering approximately 29,000 hectares. These include over 100 sites in Wales, with a total area of 2,897 hectares (7,155 acres). Access to its woods is free so everyone can benefit from woods and trees.

The Trust’s Welsh language name, “Coed Cadw”, is an old Welsh term, used in medieval laws to describe protected or preserved woodland.

The Tree of the Year competition is run in support of the Charter for Trees, Woods and People – an initiative that sets out 10 tree principles to embed in our society for a future where people and trees are stronger together. Find out more and voice your support at treecharter.uk

About People’s Postcode Lottery

People’s Postcode Lottery manages multiple society lotteries promoted by different charities and good causes. People play with their chosen postcodes for a chance to win cash prizes. A minimum of 32% from each subscription goes directly to charities and good causes across Great Britain and internationally - players have raised over £500 million so far. For details of the charities and good causes which are promoting and benefitting from the lottery draws, please visit https://www.postcodelottery.co.uk/good-causes/draw-calendar