Just a couple of miles from my home along the Otter Valley, in the centre of the cross-roads where four old paths meet, there is an ancient riven oak.  Dead now, but only a few years ago it was still producing its share of wonderfully large acorns.  It has always been known as the ‘Trysting Oak’ after generations of the local lads and lasses from Metcombe, Venn Ottery, Tipton St. John and Fluxton  had met and courted beneath its boughs.  It died because someone – Clare called such an individual ‘the spoiler’ -- set a fire in its hollow trunk.  Clare’s ‘Remembrances’ summarises my feelings about its loss, and the continued thoughtlessness of many towards growing things in the 21st century. 

Remembrances (excerpt)   
By Langley Bush I roam, but the bush hath left its hill, 
On Cowper Green I stray, tis a desert strange and chill, 
And the spreading Lea Close oak, ere decay had penned its will, 
To the axe of the spoiler and self-interest fell a prey, 
And Crossberry Way and old Round Oak's narrow lane 
With its hollow trees like pulpits I shall never see again. 
Enclosure like a Buonaparte let not a thing remain, 
It levelled every bush and tree and levelled every hill 
And hung the moles for traitors -- though the brook is running still 
It runs a sicker brook, cold and chill. 

MP IV 130

All that is left of Langley Bush in 2016... a bump in a field, surmounted by a hawthorn tree  planted by the Clare Society 20 years ago.

A notice on the gate says this:

The Langley Bush is situated on private land.  Permission to visit the mound should be sought from Fitzwilliam Farm (Milton Estates)’.

So to actually visit the site without ‘permission’, one must trespass on the land legally stolen from the commons during the enclosures.  My heart bleeds...

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