A cultural agency in the United Kingdom says it has discovered the oldest living Christmas tree in all of Britain. While the 158-year-old tree hasn’t been used as a holiday decoration in decades, at one time it was uprooted every Christmas season and brought indoors, where it lit up the halls of an English mansion. The tree was then replanted after each holiday season.
In 1856, Thomas Philip de Grey had the tree planted on the grounds of his estate, Wrest Park, which is located in Bedfordshire, England. Recently, gardeners with English Heritage, the organization that now owns and operates this historic estate, unearthed the tree’s festive history.
The gardeners found a reference to the now 100-foot-tall (30 meters) tree in the June 1900 edition of the Gardner’s Chronicle periodical. According to the article, the tree was “planted by the late Mr. Snow in 1856, and must therefore have been one of the first introduced into this country.” [White Christmas: Images of Stunning Snowy Landscapes]
The tree is a giant redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum), indigenous to parts of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. In 1853, a British plant collector named William Lobb brought a few redwood seeds to England, where they were quickly snatched up by horticulturists who had heard of the adult redwood’s magnificent proportions, according to the National Trust, a preservation and conservation society in the United Kingdom.