Posted: Fri 9th Dec 2022

The King and the First Minister plant Pontfadog Oak sapling at Erddig for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Friday, Dec 9th, 2022

His Majesty The King planted a rare sapling successfully grafted from the historic Pontfadog Oak in the grounds of Erddig in Wrexham, alongside the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford.

The ancient Pontfadog Oak, which fell in a storm in 2013, stood at Cilcochwyn Farm, near Chirk, Wrexham, and was cared for by generations of the Williams family. It was thought to be one of the world’s largest and oldest oak trees.

In 2013, The Crown Estate propagated the original Pontfadog Oak tree and planted a tree in Windsor Great Park. A further five Pontfadog Oaks were then grafted from this tree; three have been gifted to National Trust Cymru, and two are cared for by the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

The sapling was planted in memoriam to honour Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. This was His Majesty’s first visit to a place cared for by the National Trust since his accession to the Throne.

During the visit to Erddig, His Majesty and the First Minister were accompanied by Hilary McGrady, Director-General of the National Trust and Lhosa Daly, Director for Wales, National Trust Cymru, and met a number of staff and young volunteers.

Hilary McGrady, Director-General of the National Trust, says: “It’s an honour to welcome His Majesty The King back to Erddig, and to welcome the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford.

“His Majesty has long been a supporter of our work at Erddig, including opening the property to the public in 1977, and a visit to mark its 25th Anniversary in the care of the National Trust in 2002.

“We’re deeply privileged to have His Majesty, the First Minister, and members of the Williams family with us to plant the Pontfadog Oak sapling to honour Her Late Majesty The Queen. We look forward to caring for the sapling as it grows and provides a space for people to reflect and connect with nature and history.”

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford said: “It was a pleasure to be present at Erddig for the planting of the Pontfadog oak sapling in honour of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

“The tree has an incredible history having been grafted from such a grand and ancient Oak.

“I hope that the tree will grow and develop into a mighty Oak that will stand for centuries to come at Erddig”.

During the visit, the King was received by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant, Charles Barnett before he and the First Minister were introduced to the Director-General of the National Trust, Hilary McGrady and Director for Wales, National Trust Cymru, Lhosa Daly.

His Majesty was shown an apple display by head and senior gardeners, Glyn Smith and Helen Eardly.

They also met with volunteering and community involvement manager for North East Wales, Susan Jones and visitor experience and operations manager for Erddig, Anne Kurdock, who talked about Erddig’s Christmas decorations and community work.

His Majesty was also invited to plant a copper beech tree with youth volunteers, which is part of the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative.

The volunteers, Emily Roberts and Sian Evans have promised His Majesty that they will keep good care of the tree.

They said he was pleased that there were young people working on projects at Erddig.

Emily said: “It was good, it was the first time I’ve met any royalty, he had quite a calming presence. He seemed quite interested in what we’re doing here and he liked the tree. He gave it a handshake as well as us!”

Sian added: “Today was really surreal but trying to keep this a secret was something else!”

Lhosa Daly, Director for Wales, National Trust Cymru, says: “It was a pleasure to see brilliant young volunteers introduced to His Majesty and the First Minister. The work that volunteers and staff do at Erddig to increase access to nature, beauty, and history makes a real difference to so many people’s wellbeing. It goes to the very heart of the National Trust’s charitable purpose.”

“This ethos has long been part of Erddig’s legacy in the Wrexham community; in the 1790s, the Yorke family who cared for Erddig prior to the Trust championed these values and ensured the estate was open for the health and amusement of local people. It’s wonderful to see this legacy continued at Erddig today through projects like Erddig Grow and many others.”

During the visit, His Majesty and the First Minister met the Head Gardener to admire the bountiful display of apples from this year’s harvest. The Erddig estate contains vast orchards of trained fruit trees and is home to over 200 apple varieties. The group also saw the penny farthing His Majesty rode on his first visit to Erddig in 1977.

This December, the outside of the house at Erddig has been transformed into a giant advent calendar, with a new advent window shining out from the mansion house each day. On the day of the visit, the 9th advent window was unveiled, revealing a picture of a Christmas tree drawn by 7-year-old Noah who lives locally.

During the visit, Head Gardener Glyn Smith presented His Majesty with an acorn carved by a volunteer from Erddig oak and a selection of apples from the orchards.

(Report / Pics via Royal Rota)

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