My dear Henry
Thank you very much for your account of so many trees, for I particularly aspire to mention trees not generally known, nor mentioned in Strutt <1> &c, although of course I do not neglect the great notabilities. Those near you are quite new to me, & I shall gladly make use of your information as also of St Edmund’s tree. Nor did I know that the Oaks in Birnam Wood still existed. I have got accounts of a great variety of Oaks, some singular ones in Dartmoor & all parts of England – also a long description of Herries’ Oak Which has now fallen; & the queen has different articles made of its wood. I have also the Yews at Borrowdale, & Fountains Abbey, & some at Kingslee Bottom, 4 miles from Chichester, where there was once a great battle, & it is originally supposed to have been “Kingslain Bottom”. These interest me very much, as there are 200 altogether, most of them very ancient & the wood is carefully guarded, & no one is allowed to touch or approach them, lest any mischief should be done to them. Of Elms, Chestnuts, Thorns, & some other trees, I have various interesting accounts, but what delight me most are the Scotch Sycamores called “Dool Trees”, of which only two or three remain, & on which they used to hang their enemies, hence the name of “Dool” or “grief” trees – I have an account of one of these still existing at Cassilis near the old Castle, with spreading branches – on which about 200 years ago, the last enemy, a Sir John Faa, was hung by an Earl of Cassilis, who had married his old love whilst he was absent abroad, & when he came home & tried to see her in disguise, he was hung on that tree, & the lady saw him executed from her window! An amiable female! <2> Another very curious Sycamore has an immense protuberance, the bark in the course of centuries having grown over some iron then attached to the trunk as a kind of pillory. These have interested me much, & I have collected every scrap of legendary tradition that I can find, to enliven the mere facts of size or age. Caroline <3> has sent me an account of her Chestnut at Cothele <4>, & of course I have the famous Chestnut at Tortworth. I think she would like my MS if I could ever turn it into a Book, as she has a weakness for old trees, like myself. I am sorry the Annas Thorn was not in Domesday Book.<5> I must omit that. My mind is much exercised why it is called the Annas, & not the Stanton thorn, & it makes me fancy that thereby hangs a tale, which I have apparently no chance of finding out. On the spot it appears that no one knows anything more of it than that a very old thorn was uprooted between 1829 & 1834. We were all very stupid at Moreton, <6> for in my researches I have discovered that one of the most immense Oaks, ever known, existed during a part of the last century, until it was destroyed for firewood, at the eastern side of Blandford, close to the road to Hanford, Mrs Seymer’s, <7> where we often went, & yet I have never heard my Mother <8> mention it which surprises me. It was called “Damory’s Oak”, being in the grounds of Damory Court, a seat of the Ryves family. Its dimensions are given in Hutchin’s Dorset, <9> which I have procured from Henry, <10> and for many years after the Restoration, it was inhabited, and the size of the interior of the truck enabled it to be used as an Alehouse. I met with a curious account accidentally, of two enormous Oaks now gone, called Adam & Eve, near Leicester I think, but I have not my MS before me. Eve’s trunk formed a house for a Navvy when Railroads begun [sic], & then was used as a residence by the Station Master for some time. Now it is only a donkey shed. The Calthorpe Oak is however the most wonderful of all, larger than the groundplot of the Eddystone Lighthouse which was modelled from its shape, near Wetherby.11> With again thanks,
Your affte cousin
Louisa Charlotte Frampton
2. Many of Louisa's trees can be identified. Birnam Wood, Perthshire – In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Malcolm tells his soldiers to camouflage themselves with branches cut from Birnam Wood. In Act V, Scene V, Birnam Wood is said to be moving towards Dunsinane, in fulfilment of the witches’ prophesy; Borrowdale Yews, Cumbria, were celebrated in Wordsworth’s 1803 poem, Yew Trees: "But worthier still of note / Are those fraternal Four of Borrowdale, / Joined in one solemn and capacious grove"; Fountains Abbey yews, Yorkshire, was originally known as the Seven Sisters (reduced to five by 1891); Kingslee Bottom, Chichester, Sussex, where ancient yew trees can still be found at Kingley Vale near Chichester; the dool tree of Cassilis Castle, Ayrshire, survived until the winter of 1939-1940; in legend and ballad, the wife of the Earl of Castilis was carried away by Sir John Faa of Dunbar and his men who were caught and hung on the dool tree of Cassilis; Sir John Faa sometimes appears as king of the gypsies; the great chestnut of Tortworth, Gloucestershire, still in St Leonard’s churchyard, were first recorded in the reign of King John.
3. Lady Caroline Augusta Edgcumbe, née Feilding (1808-1881); WHFT's half-sister; Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Victoria, 1840–1854 & 1863–1865.
4. Misspelling for Cotehele, Cornwall: ancient house, seat of the Earl of Mt Edgcumbe, now a National Trust Property.
5. See Doc. No: 02825. Augustus John Cuthbert Hare (1834-1903), Rector of Alton Barnes, Wiltshire, claimed that an ancient thorn tree could still be found on the border of the parish of Stanton St Bernard, Wiltshire, as mentioned in Domesday (no corroboration has been found in Domesday for Wiltshire). He stated that Anna’s Thorn, Anna’s Well, etc., related to the saint whose protection the parish enjoyed. Hare, Memorials of a Quiet Life (London: Strathan, 1872), p. 285.
6. Moreton, Dorset: home of the Frampton family.
7. She was probably referring to her late friend, Lady Harriet Ker Seymer, née Beckford (1779-1853), wife of Henry Ker Seymer (1782-1834), JP, MP & Sheriff of Dorset. It is also possible that the reference was to Isabell Helen, née Webber, widow of Henry Ker Seymer (1807-1864), JP, MP, & High Sheriff of Dorset.
8. Lady Harriot Frampton, née Fox Strangways (1778 - 6 Aug 1844); dau of Henry Thomas Fox Strangways, 2nd Earl of Ilchester and Mary Theresa O'Grady; she married James Frampton (1769-1855) in 1799.
9. Damory’s Oak survived until 1755 at Damory Court, near Blandford, Dorset. The house was owned by the Ryves family from the 16th-18th c. and was destroyed by fire in 1845. The source is John Hutchins, The history and antiquities of the county of Dorset; compiled from the best and most ancient historians, inquisitiones post mortem, and other valuable records and MSS. in the public offices, and libraries, and in private hands. With a copy of Domesday book and the Inquisitio Gheldi for the county: interspersed with some remarkable particulars of natural history; and adorned with a correct map of the county, and views of antiquities, seats of the nobility and gentry, &c. (London: printed by W. Bowyer and J. Nichols, 1874). Numerous editions followed this one.
10. Henry Frampton (1804-1879).
11. Ancient Adam & Eve Oaks are recorded near Minstead, Hampshire; Calthorpe Oak, Wetherby, Yorkshire was much in decay by 1829; Eddystone Lighthouse, Devon. The third lighthouse was designed by John Smeaton and modelled on an oaktree shape - it was operational by 1759 and was not replaced tntil the second half of the 19th c. by the current famous lighthouse.
12. Sir Richard Colt Hoare, 2nd baronet (1758–1858), historian of Wiltshire. He published works including History of Modern Wiltshire, (1822–1844) (completed posthumously), Ancient History of North and South Wiltshire, (1812–1821).