The Crowhurst Yew in the grounds of St George's Church, Crowhurst, East Sussex. SUS-210312-143426001

Hastings: 1,300-year-old tree ‘where magistrate was hung for not revealing King Harold’s treasure’

One of the county’s oldest trees can be found near Hastings.

By Richard Gladstone
Wednesday, 8th December 2021, 8:45 am

The Crowhurst Yew is believed to be more than 1,300 years old, pre-dating the Battle of Hastings and the arrival of William the Conqueror. In an article on the Forestry Journal’s website, it says the tree was planted around 700 AD. It can be found in the south of a churchyard, just off a path leading to St George’s Church in Crowhurst.

The tree has a bit of history surrounding it and has connections to both William the Conqueror and King Harold. Harold owned the manor house and land in the area, which was destroyed by the Normans. His reeve, which in mediaeval times was the local magistrate, is said to have been hung from the yew tree after refusing to reveal where King Harold’s treasure was kept.

In 2006 the yew tree was measured at standing 12 metres tall, with a main trunk of 9.08 metres. The Forestry Journal says the Crowhurst Yew is the largest of three yew trees that grow in the churchyard. The other two are thought to have been planted by Sir John Pelham, the constable of nearby Pevensey Castle in the 15th century, which makes them around 600 years old. The Crowhurst Yew has in the past been shortlisted by the Woodland Trust in its annual Tree of the Year contest. On September 27, 2016, as part of the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings commemorations, a plaque was placed on the railings surrounding the tree by the Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex. The writing on the plaque reads: “1066–2016. This ancient yew was here in 1066 when King Harold owned the Manor of Crowhurst. In this 950th anniversary year of the Battle of Hastings we remember his close links to this part of Sussex.”

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