The Minchenden Oak, Southgate, N14 7JN. Once again its canopy is beginning to grow.
The Minchenden (or Chandos) Oak is one of London’s oldest trees, not as old as the ancient yew in Totteridge or some other London trees. Its a relatively young tree compared to others yet still its 800 years old. Its claim to fame was due to its having the largest canopy of any tree in England during the 19th century. Since then poor pruning, as well as a very serious case of decay in 2013, has affected the tree’s once grand appearance. Nevertheless it still ranks among some of London’s oldest.
Some say the tree was the largest Oak in England with a canopy of 126 feet. That other great English tree, the famous Major Oak in Sherwood forest, has a canopy of 92 feet at the most.
The Green at Old Southgate, with Christ Church behind. The Minchenden Oak garden is adjacent to this church.
Despite the Minchenden Oak being almost lost in 2013 due to fungal decay – when the prognosis for it was initially very poor, it was successfully nursed back to health and is once again thriving. The tree can be found in a small dedicated park on Waterfall Road just off The Green, Old Southgate.
The entrance to the Minchenden Oak Garden.
The tree was once part of Minchenden Wood, within the ancient forest of Middlesex. This used to be so large its southern boundary once bordered on Houndsditch in the City of London. The name Chandos refers to the fact the land was once owned by the 3rd Duke of that name. In 1836 the land was transferred to the Arnos Grove estate, and finally transferred to Southgate Borough Council.
1934 invite. Source: Friends Of Minchenden Oak Garden
Prior to its transfer to the council, the tree had been threatened with demolition to make way for suburban housing, no thanks to the presence of the new Piccadilly Line nearby. In 1934 the small dedicated park was created by Southgate Borough Council as an evergreen Garden of Remembrance and opened on 12 May of that year.
Just inside the main entrance to the gardens.
Another view of the Minchenden Oak. From this angle the severe pruning the tree received can be seen.
Christ Church’s own garden next door has a few quite old trees, not of the same great age though, but still quite possibly remnants of the once great forest that existed around here.
The information board by the tree.
The tree once had a canopy covering a spread of 126 feet as detailed on the information board. The old picture at left shows how large it once was. Like many other venerable oak trees, the Minchenden needed supports to keep it stable.
At one time there was a seat all the way around the base of the tree and it must have been a cool spot in the height of the summer! This was removed a few years ago.
A general view of the Mincheden Oak Gardens. The tree itself is on the right.
Address: Waterfall Road, Southgate, N14 7JN
The park is open from 8.00am Monday to Saturday, and 8.30am on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Closing times are unspecified. (Relevant pages are missing from Enfield Borough’s website.)
Bus 298 from Arnos Grove tube and Southgate stations stops at the Southgate cemetery gate near the Minchenden Oak Garden.
Other buses serve The Green, Southgate, about 5-10 minutes walk distant. These include: W6, 121 and 299 and can be caught from Southgate tube station.