Telling tale of how tree lives on

Telling tale of how tree lives on

Philip, left, and Jody Koomen with giant slices of timber from the tree at their workshop

The oak tree standing in the park at Blenheim Palace before it was felled

First published in Witney Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Didcot and Wallingford. Call me on 01865 425425

A NEW exhibition will reveal how an iconic oak tree from Blenheim Palace in Woodstock has lived on after it was felled two years ago.

The oak tree, which grew on the palace estate for 222 years, was cut down in January 2010.

It then became the focus of an environmental study called the OneOak project and a new touring exhibition will show what was made with wood from the tree. A preview, ahead of the main exhibition, will take place tomorrow and on Sunday at Philip Koomen Furniture, at Wheelers Barn, in Bradley’s Street, Checkendon, near Wallingford.

Father-of-two Mr Koomen, 58, from Burcot, near Dorchester, who runs a furniture studio, said: “I have made a 4ft diameter dining table from the oak tree and my son Jody has made a wall cabinet and some boxes.

“The exhibition will also show scientific research on the oak tree conducted by the Sylva Foundation and Oxford University – it’s one of Britain’s most studied trees.

“We love to see beautiful trees in woodlands but we don’t want things to change. However, some trees have to be cut down and managed.

“The exhibition tells the story of British forestry and wood culture through just one tree.

“The oak has had a very interesting second life after it came down.”

The OneOak exhibition will be at Waterperry House, near Wheatley, from July 19 to 22 during the Art in Action event, then at Blenheim Palace from July 25 to October 4.

Mr Koomen, who has recently made new pews for Dorchester Abbey, said Dr Gabriel Hemery, chief executive of the Sylva Foundation, would give a talk about the project at his studio at 11am tomorrow. The preview exhibition is open from 11am to 5pm both days.

In 2010, children from schools in Combe, Stonesfield, Bladon and Didcot took part in the OneOak project, run by the Sylva Foundation, based at Little Wittenham, to study the life of the oak tree.

They followed how the timber from the oak was turned into furniture and other items.

The oak, donated by the Duke of Marlborough, had grown to a height of 79ft.

Some of its wood was made into a bench by students at Rycotewood Furniture Centre, part of Oxford & Cherwell Valley College.

The bench was presented to pupils and staff at Willowcroft Community School in Didcot last year.

  • For more information on the OneOak project and this weekend’s event, click on the links.

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