Mark Sherwood of Johnston Roadstone's Leinthall Quarry, in Herefordshire, has invested some of his firm's cash in a bid to recreate a piece of medieval England. He backed a Forestry Commission project with £12,000 after hearing about some 500-year-old living relics near the quarry, and hopes that the company's support will give a new lease of life to the mighty oaks woodsmen first tended in the 1500s.
The Forestry Commission plans to clear hundreds of conifers from around 70 ancient trees in Croft Wood, 10 miles from Leominster, and eventually hopes to create the type of flower-rich open pasture that existed at the time of Henry VIII. Mr Sherwood said: 'The story of these trees is amazing. Local estate workers were pollarding them around the time Henry VIII was proposing to Anne Boleyn. The trees haven't been pollarded for decades and left unattended they would die. However, expert tree surgery will breath new life into them and could keep them going for centuries yet.'
Area forester Breandan Mulholland said that, as well as the living trees, there were another 120 500-year-old oaks still standing which had died. 'These are as important as the living ones,' he said, 'as their gradually decaying carcasses will provide homes and food for billions of invertebrates vital to the health of the forest.' He added that the land clearance and tree surgery Johnston Roadstone were paying for would be carried out gradually over the next four years, as too much work too quickly on the living trees and their surroundings could kill them.