This massive, hollow yew tree stands guard over St Georges churchyard in Crowhurst and is thought to be some 4000 years old. The first record of its girth comes in a parish note of 1630, when it was measured at 30 feet (9.1m). John Evelyn in 1664 recorded that there was a yew “in the churchyward of Crowhurst in the county of Surrey, which I am told is ten yards in compass”, but modern measurement states 34 feet. Further recorded by John Aubrey in his Natural History & Antiquities Of The County Of Surrey (1718/1719) the yew boasts a hollow interior space of about 6 feet, with a doorway and wooden door.
It would seem that at some point the tree was a victim of the English Civil War as a large cannon ball was discovered embedded in its side during the nineteenth century when it was converted to a summer house. Furnished with tables and chairs the tree room suffered further misfortune when a violent storm collapsed the roof in 1845.
At one time the tree was a meeting place for the Parish Council and at another it housed a homeless family. By 1890 the table had gone, but the benches remained.
This fine ancient specimen sports glorious swirling pink bark which some say depicts the face of an old man sticking his tongue out!
The Crowhurst Yew was featured in the BBC series ‘Meetings with Remarkable Trees’ and appears in the book of the series by Thomas Pakenham (1996).