Clipsham Yew Tree Avenue, Rutland

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In 2011 we found Clipsham Yew Tree Avenue, near Oakham in Rutland.  We were passing by, when I notice some topiary trees which seem to be in a garden.  Even back then, I had a habit of shouting stop…..nothing has changed there.  Once we had come to a shuddering halt, I got out the car to have a better look and then realised it was open to the public.  Meanwhile my poor long suffering husband found a small car park, parked up and joined me in the most surreal landscape…..I felt like Alice in Wonderland.  These trees are huge and looked as if they might all start waddling off at any moment, and then we saw that a lot were clipped to celebrate certain occasions.

The Avenue is a unique collection of 150 yew trees, most over 200 years old and was once the carriage drive to Clipsham Hall, the centre of the Clipsham Estate. The Hall is a grade 2 listed building and is still at the end of the drive, but is not open to the public.  The wonderful topiary was begun in 1870 by the head forester Amos Alexander, who lived in the lodge at the old entrance to the estate. The squire at the time was so impressed that he instructed Amos to cut figures on all of the trees along the carriage drive to his home at Clipsham Hall to depict items of local interest and record family events and so the Yew Tree Avenue was born. During World War Two the avenue became neglected, overgrown and was eventually restored after the Forestry Commission took over the site in 1955. New shapes were added, the current ones maintained, and the work continues on today, organised now by the government department, Forest Enterprise.  The best time to visit is at the end of September, after they have finished clipping the shapes back on the trees.  

10 Replies to “Clipsham Yew Tree Avenue, Rutland”

  1. Oh, my goodness! What an incredible find. Alice in Wonderland fits perfectly. That’s an awful lot of topiary. Thanks, Lynne, these are great. 🙂 🙂

    1. I think that is only funding for a once a year clip now, when we visited it was a bit different. But even so it could be a bit like the Forth Road Bridge, never ending. A very odd find through, very eccentric….ha ha very English 🙂 and I can say that because I am English, not eccentric….well only a little 🙂

  2. In the last picture of the topiary, I believe Alice is in the clouds keeping a close eye on her treasures. The wind is also blowing her braid and some loose hair . Love the old home, looks like something in Colonial Williamsburg,VA. A lovely place to visit.

    1. Yes I believe you are right about Alice, didn’t see her before 🙂 The house is very colonial looking, I love American houses, took so many photos of them on our visit last year, enough to keep me going for the next couple of years, posting them 🙂

      1. Deb if you go to my category box, click on it, a menu will come up, run down the menu to Buildings of America. I have posted several already, still lots to do 🙂

  3. Hi there, I just came across this while doing some research for Yew Tree Avenue. I was born and brought up in that house!(Clipsham Hall) We have set up a charity to try to restore the Yew Tree Avenue as the Forestry Commission are no longer able to fund it. The trees are in poor shape at the moment, but we intend to do something about that! I am not sure where in the world you are, but any support would be gratefully received ..we especially need people to help us prove a need for such a lovely avenue of trees to be kept up and improved. Thankyou. Sue Thomas (nee Davenport-Handley)

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