Parliament Oak

Although I have visited Sherwood Forest many times, I have never seen the Parliament Oak. So I am very grateful to Albie, who is lucky enough to live near Sherwood, for once again sending in some very interesting information and wonderful pictures of the legendary tree.

It was during his stay at Clipstone that King John (1166-1216), after hearing the news of a Welsh revolt, is said to have summoned a council of barons under the branches of this ancient oak in the summer of 1212. The boundary of Clipstone Park was formerly at this tree, which stood in the park fence. Seventy eight years later Edward I (Longshanks) is also said to have held Parliament here.

Albie says:
“The tree originally had two trunks but due to age damage and neglect one is much reduced in size. It is believed to be 1200 years old which make it the oldest tree we know of in Sherwood, if true. It once formed part of the pale (fence) that enclosed the deer park of Clipstone - this fence stretched nearly eight miles and was the sole reserve for the King's to hunt in. The tree marked the Hell Gate entrance of the park, which was in existence from 1180 until 1830.
Whilst staying at the Hunting Palace at Clipstone in 1212 King John was warned of a Welsh uprising. The legend is he gathered his nobles at the oak to 'have parley' with them about the situation. This was effectively a session of Parliament hence the association with the name. From here John returned to Nottingham where he was holding the young Welsh hostages in the castle. He then hung them one by one from the castle walls as a lesson to the Welsh rebels (whose sons they were). It is said their ghostly screams can still be heard at night near the castle walls.

Another local tradition states that the Ancient Barons met and brought to King John the terms which laid the foundation of the Great Charter (Magna Carta)' which was signed at Runnymede in 1215.
In Edward I’s reign another Parliament was said to have been held under the oak in 1290. The king was en route to Scotland. This was a large parliament held on St Michael's Day with nearly 300 petitions and pleas being heard. There has to be some doubt whether this session was held under the trees but the stories have persisted down the centuries that it did.
The tree survived the onslaught of the English Civil War (1642 -46) when most of the ancient oaks were felled for timber to build the Royal Navy up. It was largely neglected from then until a few years ago when its survival was looking bleak. Work was carried to ensure the tree will thrive and it is now in the care of the Sherwood Forest Trust based in Edwinstowe. A small enclosure helps protect the tree and a couple of parking bays nearby allow access as it stands alongside the busy A6075 road between Mansfield Woodhouse and Edwinstowe. At the rear of the tree is an excellent view across the Maun Valley across what was originally the Clipstone Deer Park. When in its heyday The Hunting Palace was probably visible from here.”



Clement of the Glen said...

"Parliament Oak"

Special thanks to Albie for the fascinating information and pictures.

robin hood said...

Great minds think alike. I took a few photos of this tree over Summer. (The article will be different to this one).

It really distressed me how badly it's being neglected. (Though I know there are plans afoot to change that). I filled several carrier bags of rubbish from around the tree, mostly food wrappers and plastic bottles, it serving more as a late night lay-by than a historic site.

And well done to Albie. It is a hard subject to photograph.

Albie said...

There wasn't too much rubbish on the day I was there. It was being attended to as well. The car you see on the left of the photo was from Ulyetts Groundworks who were about to do some work around the tree. We use them here in Walesby to keep our grass verges and other vegetation under control.

Yes, have to agree that it has become a meeting point for late night gatherings. Being right next to a main road does not help either.

Clement of the Glen said...

Thanks for your comments Robin and Albie.

It is so distressing and annoying to see how some of our historic sites are treated.I sincerely hope the tree will start to be better looked after in the future.

Looking forward to your article Robin. At least our blogs will keep interest alive in that legendary tree!

Albie said...

Hopefully all our trees will face a brighter future. There was a web article on the BBC site today regarding £7m of government funding to tackle the 'sudden oak death' and other diseases threatening our trees.

Albie said...

I've now posted a short film clip of the tree on my Youtube channel. For anyone interested you will find it at

Clement of the Glen said...

Many thanks Albie, watching your video clips makes me home sick! I must visit Sherwood next year!

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