The Repton Oak, Reservoir Wood

 

Repton Oak

The Repton Oak in February 2002 - the photograph gives some idea of the many-stemmed development of the tree, but also shows freshly hewn branches as the tree is suffering from stress.

 

The tree known as the Repton Oak is situated in Reservoir Wood, close to Wanstead Park. It is one of the Park's finest trees and is a sessile oak Quercus petraea. It is said to have been planted in about 1815 under the guidance of Humphry Repton (see below). The technique was to plant several small trees together in the same hole so that eventually the trunks fused together. A number of other possible examples of this technique can be found in Wanstead Park, but the Repton Oak is the finest. Something like 9 fused trunks can be counted. The tree is almost impossible to miss if the main track from Blake Hall Road eastwards through the length of the wood is taken. Unfortunately in 2000 the oak lost a number of its major spreading branches. A barrier of cut undergrowth was placed by the Conservators of Epping Forest in an effort to divert people away from the tree and thus to prevent stress to the root system. By early 2002 more of its lower branches had to be cut away, as the above photograph shows.

Humphry Repton was a landscape gardener, born in Bury St. Edmunds in 1752. He was the successor to Lancelot 'Capability' Brown. Following losses of two business ventures he became a landscape gardener using the knowledge of his hobby, botany. For the last 45 years of his life he lived in Romford in a cottage at Hare Street, which is now renamed Main Road, in Gidea Park. There are three roads in athe area named after him; Repton Avenue, Repton Gardens and Repton Drive, and a plaque to his memory was unveiled on 19 April 1969 on the site of his cottage, now rebuilt as a branch of Lloyds TSB.

Humphry Repton died in 1818.

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