European Tree of The Year 2020
The United Kingdom's entry to European Tree of the Year 2020 is Liverpool's Allerton Oak. This venerable living landmark is believed to be between 800 and 1,000 years old and stands in the expansive Calderstones Park, a former haunt of singer-songwriting legends John Lennon and Paul McCartney in their youth.
John Warren, Calderstones Park Ranger:
“I've worked in this park, Calderstones Park, for 48 years, man and boy. When I first started here the old gardeners who were here in the war told me a fantastic and true story of how they used to send leaves to the soldiers on the frontline. Can you imagine receiving a leaf or an acorn from this tree? You're on the frontline and it's heart-warming and gives you hope that the people of Liverpool are thinking about you.
“The Allerton Oak is a sessile oak. It's a deciduous tree. It's full of mosses and lichens. It has ferns growing out of it. It's a haven, if you like. It has its own ecosystem. The birds come here to breed in the holes in the trees. It's twisted, it's gnarled. But structurally it's a piece of living architecture.
“John Lennon lived on Menlove Avenue and he went to Calderstone School, or what was Quarry Bank School. When he was going to school there were no railings around the tree. And as this tree is tactile, people want to climb it; people want to touch it. I'll bet you John Lennon climbed this tree as a kid.
“What I’m asking the public? Vote for this tree for Tree of the Year in Europe.”
Legend suggests that the large crack down the side of the tree was formed in 1864 when the sailing ship Lotty Sleigh caught fire and exploded on the River Mersey.
With 11 tonnes of gunpowder in its hold, the resultant explosion and violent shock wave tore the ship apart and devastated large parts of Liverpool and beyond.
Vote for Allerton Oak
1,000(-ish) years old, gnarled, structurally damaged and propped since 1907 but still standing firm, defiant, imposing and jaw-droppingly magnificent. This landmark veteran deserves to be on this year's podium and we urge you to cast your vote to offer Liverpool's treasure the recognition it deserves.
Allerton is mentioned in William the Conqueror’s Domesday Book of 1086, and it’s possible the oak was already growing before then.
And the imposing oak has been a loyal community servant. In medieval times local courts were known as ‘hundred courts’ and usually lacked a courthouse facility. The Liverpool landmark admirably deputised, with officials meeting under the spreading branches to hear the cases.
More recently Christmas cards containing the oak’s acorns and leaves were sent to Calderstones Park staff who were fighting abroad during the Second World War, as good luck tokens and a reminder of home.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney both grew up near the park, and Lennon would pass through it every morning as he cycled to school. The pair used to hang around the park in their youth, and would have marvelled at the venerable oak countless times.
European Tree of The Year facts
- Running annually since 2011, the European Tree of The Year contest unites 16 participating countries and celebrates the stories and community connections of landmark trees, rather than the physicality or outright age of entries.
- Best result for a UK tree was second place in 2017 from the Brimmon Oak in Wales. Its vote tally – 16,203 – was a mere 1,394 votes behind the Polish winner.
- Last year's UK entry, Yorkshire's Nellie's tree, managed ninth with 14,408 votes. We're hoping to better that result for this contest.
- Voting opens on 1 February and closes on 29 February. The winner will be announced in March.
The Tree Charter
The UK 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.