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Crease family’s wellingtonia tree in Tenterden felled after 113 years

By Tricia Jamieson

A woman has spoken of her sadness after a giant tree planted in 1900 by her father had to be felled as it was dying.

The wellingtonia redwood, which was around 150ft high, was in Caxton Close, behind the Merchant Chandler off Tenterden High Street.

It was felled on Saturday, watched by Heather Crease, whose father, Ernest, planted it when he was 10.

“It is sad that it is coming down,” she said. “It was badly damaged in the 1987 hurricane but this year seems to have put on a spurt of firs as a final show, as if it knew it was coming down.”

The building occupied by Merchant Chandler was Mrs Crease’s family home, Ovenden. It was bought by her grandfather, dentist Thomas Tait, for £400. In 1900 he bought the grounds behind, including orchards, tennis courts and a croquet lawn.

“My father planted the tree that year when he was 10,” said Mrs Crease, 85, of Ashford Road, Tenterden.

“It used to have lower branches which swept the ground and I remember playing under them as a child.

“It is sad it has gone as it was my last link with the family home. My father was born in the house and I lived there as a child.”

Mrs Crease was one of four children.

In 1995, she led a successful campaign to stop the top of the tree being cut off. Five years later, the family installed a plaque on it commemorating its planting.

Mrs Crease’s father sold Ovenden for £5,000 in the 1950s. The grounds were sold in the 1970s and homes built.

“The car park comes close to the tree and we have been told by tree experts that has affected water getting to the roots,” said Mrs Crease, a dentist like her father.

Mrs Crease has five children, Diana, Susan, Rachel, Benjamin and Richard, 16 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Some of the family were with her on Saturday to witness the felling.

“We were there from 8am until about 2pm,” she said. “The men felling the tree were very good.

“They gave us our plaque and some pieces of wood as souveniers.”

The stump of the tree is being turned into a seat which Mrs Crease is considering putting the plaque on.

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