THE ELMDON community turned out to celebrate the 500th birthday of one of Solihull’s oldest residents.
Elmdon Park’s veteran Spanish Chestnut tree was planted during the reign of King Henry VIII, in 1518.
Solihull council has recognised its significance, granting it protected status and safeguarding it with its own fence.
The council has also provided a sign containing a timeline of historical moments the tree has lived through.
It states: ‘If only the tree could talk, what a story it might tell!’
The Elmdon Park Support Group held a day of appreciation for the historic landmark on Saturday (September 29).
The event provided an opportunity for residents to learn about its history, plant daffodil bulbs and enjoy champagne and cakes.
The group also called on residents to share their memories of the tree and the park.
They encouraged people to tie them to the tree’s railings or post them on the group’s Facebook page.
Local historian and group member Stephen Carr said: “First planted in the reign of Henry VIII during his marriage to Catharine of Aragon, this tree has seen incredible history including the Gunpowder Plot, the reigns of Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria, and has survived two world wars.
“During the Second World War the tree escaped the bombing which landed on Elmdon in November 1940, killing several nearby residents.
“In the park itself much has changed since the tree was planted.
“Neither of the two lakes were in place. Instead you would have seen a stream surrounded by a marshy area with a few reed beds which were used for roofing, baskets, and bedding.
“Since 1518 we’ve seen the erection of Elmdon Manor and its demolition, the creation of the walled garden, and the creation of St. Nicholas Church – the church in the park.”
Scientists have been able to discover the tree’s true age by counting the ‘growth rings’ – dark circular lines which are produced every year in the trunk.
A tree classed as veteran must not only be ancient, but it must be old in comparison to its species and have interesting features both biologically and aesthetically, the council says.
Ward councillor Laura McCarthy said: “The Elmdon Park Support Group does a fantastic job looking after the park for our community, raising awareness of its Green Flag winning features and highlighting issues which need addressing.
“It’s wonderful for the community to be able to come together to celebrate such a unique event in the park, one that showcases Elmdon Park’s fascinating history.”