If there’s one piece of flora that captures the essence of England most, then there’s no doubt it must be the oak tree. Durable and deeply rooted in our history, it’s no wonder that its Latin name, Quercus robur, means ‘strength’.
So how has it come to be so intertwined in our culture? Well, for one thing, the oak tree has long made a visual impact on our landscape. Although these days the amount of English oaks in the wild have dwindled, we still have more ancient oaks in England than the rest of Europe do combined. Natural that we’d gravitate towards making them a national symbol.
Symbolism is a big part of our connection to the oak tree. Druids believed oak groves to be places of special magical significance, and would practise their rituals and worships amongst the trees. Interestingly enough, many early Christian churches were situated in oak-groves, most likely because they were once places of pagan worship.
Even later, in Oliver Cromwell’s time, then couples were wed under ancient oak trees. The festive Yule Log was traditionaly cut from oak. It’s been a symbol of national strength and survival for centuries – England has timber-framed structures dating back hundreds of years, including manors, castles, homes, and inns. The architecture and techniques of construction have evolved over the years. And it was integral to ship building – in the 1700s oak trees were in high demand for this purpose, and were grown especially. Then there’s the famous story of King Charles the Second, who hid from his pursuers in an Oak tree at Boscobel House.
Today oak is still one of the most popular hardwoods in Britain. We want to keep the natural woodlands thriving and healthy, which is why we are a proud member of the Association of Environmentally Conscious Builders – a network that shares and promotes the best practice for environmentally sustainable building. We also thoroughly support the work of ‘Grown in Britain’. So join us in celebrating and utilising the beauty and strength of wood, while also protecting it!
Lead image: English Oak Tree (quercus Rober) At Dawn by Bob Gibbons