The Ankerwycke Yew is an ancient yew tree close to the ruins of St Mary’s Priory, the site of a Benedictine nunnery built in the 12th century. It is near Wraysbury in Berkshire, England.
Age and size: It is a male tree with a girth of 8 metres (26 ft) at 0.3 metres. Various estimates have put its age at between 2,000 and 2,500 years.
Historic connections: On the opposite bank of the River Thames are the meadows of Runnymede and this tree is said to have been witness to the signing of Magna Carta signed by King John in 1215. It is also said to be the location where Henry VIII met Anne Boleyn in the 1530s.
Location Plan and directions:
From the car park, make your way through the kissing gate (to your right as you enter the car park), into the meadow. This is known as The Orchard. Please be aware these meadows are grazed for most of the year. The cattle are in general curious of you, but not aggressive. Please observe any signs when entering a grazed area. Once through the gate, turn left and walk along the field boundary. Continue through the farmer’s gate, past the small cedar tree.
Walking over the boardwalk and through the kissing gate, you are now in Little Day Meadow, and will be facing a large London Plane tree. Turn left here, and walk towards another kissing gate.
Go through the kissing gate, across the track to the next kissing gate in front of you. You are now in The Park, newly opened to the public in 2011, our newest open route at Ankerwycke. Walk straight ahead, following the naturally made trail in the grass.
The trail here veers round to your right. Continue along this route.
Within the line of trees at the other side of the field, you’ll see a kissing gate. Go through the gate, and at the path turn right. You are now walking alongside the River Thames.
Following the circular walk trail marker posts, the path bears right. Continue through the kissing gate, into Ankerwycke Mead, also known as Black Walnut Mead. Walk through the meadow with the black walnut tree on your left. You’ll see a kissing gate in front of you.
Go through the gate, and walk along the track through the woods, with the old Fish Ponds on your left.
You will come out into a small meadow surrounded by trees, with St Mary’s Priory on your left and the 2,000 year-old Ankerwycke Yew on your right. Make sure to stop and have a look underneath the canopy of this venerable old giant. Continue on the path, over a small bridge and into the avenue of Grey Poplars, until you’re faced with a large gate. Turn left here, through the kissing gate. You are now back on your original route (points 3 to 1), where you follow the route back to the car park, the way you came.
End: Car park at Ankerwycke, Magna Carta Lane, grid ref: TQ002732