Replacement of Trees

Wednesday 23rd January 2019

Local residents will recall that this last summer saw extreme weather conditions with one of the hottest summers on record. Sadly, a number of trees in the city failed and access to many of our parks was restricted. In late June and early July, Oxford saw temperatures between 27˚C and 30˚C consistently every day with no rainfall. 

On Friday 6 July 2018, a large branch from our beloved almond tree fell into the High Street. Thankfully, no one was hurt. Colleagues from the Fire Service attended within the hour. They removed the branch and cleared the highway. In the analysis of our arboricultural consultant, the tree failure was caused by a combination of drought and a degree of swirling air movement generated by passing large vehicles on the high street.

Since July, the Parochial Church Council has sought advice about the tree and to ensure that the remaining branches were stable. A thorough Tree Management Plan was commissioned in the late summer and carried out under the supervision of the University Parks Department. Following consultation with the Tree Officer from Oxford City Council, it was agreed that the best course of action was to remove the whole tree and plant a suitable replacement in its stead. This work began on Wednesday 23 January. Work did not begin until all statutory consultations had taken place and all necessary permissions had been received.

The University Church will be replacing this tree (and two other trees) on the south side of the church. To achieve a similar aesthetic, we will be planting a Cercis siliquastrum, a Sorbus cashmiriana and a Prunus dulcis (Almond Tree). This will ensure that future generations will continue to enjoy the early signs of spring and the budding of almond blossom on the High Street.

At the same time, the impact of these extreme weather conditions has caused the church community to reflect carefully about our care of the environment. The Parochial Church Council has established an Environmental Action Group, made up of parishioners and students, and we will be initiating a thorough audit of our activities in the next few months.

Notes for Press

For further information, including photography, please contact:

Ana-Maria Niculcea, Administrator, University Church of St Mary the Virgin, High St, Oxford OX1 4BJ

t. 01865 279111

The University Church of St Mary the Virgin is the official church of the University of Oxford and the spiritual heart of the oldest university in Britain. With dignified liturgy, thoughtful preaching and beautiful music, it has been a place of Christian worship for over a thousand years. Today, we strive to be a community of faithful Christian witness and intelligent debate, unafraid to engage with the modern world.