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'Coronation Fete of Queen Victoria, 1838
Under the Caeryder Oak, Lanhenoch'
Old print from a painting by HF Worsley
The Caeryder Oak, Llanhennock, 1964
Sketch by Fred Hando
From Here And There In Monmouthshire
March 3rd 2006

The Caeryder Oak Llanhennock

Just outside Caerleon on the slopes below the Llanhennock ridge stands the Caeryder Oak - once one of the greatest oaks in the county of Monmouthshire. Hundreds of years old, it's watched the River Usk rise and fall daily with the tide; it's seen the Usk Valley come to life bursting into green only to mellow to Autumn brown each passing year. Though it will never itself again participate in this seasonal cycle it still has a part to play in the order of things - in time to return to the earth that nurtured the tiny acorn it sprang from.

As can be seen from the old print (top left) it was a huge tree back in 1838 when locals celebrated the Coronation of Queen Victoria under its spreading branches. And where better to mark an important moment in time? (See footnote.)

In 1964 when Fred Hando went up to Llanhennock 'between storms' he found the girth of the tree to be 48 feet (approx 16m) - some 10 feet (3m) greater than when measured in 1876. You can read his musing by following this link.

Nowadays its dead branches are just a fragment of their former glory but the twisted trunk is instantly recognisable. And there it stands, a fabulous sculpture created by nature. It was there when oaks were being felled to build ships during the reign of the first Queen Elizabeth - this continuity makes History more real for us. Its seen changes. Once, a horse and carriage drove Colonel Sir Digby Mackworth Bart. to and from his home at Glen Usk. Recently the same route has been followed by rock bands in limos to the Loco recording studio at Plas Llecha where Oasis recorded their first number one hit - Some Might Say. The very landscape has changed in the valley below with the completion of the new Celtic Manor Resort Golf Course. And here's a great coincidence! Or maybe it is fate... For the tree is called after the old name for the field it stands in, Cae Ryder or Ryder field ('cae' is Welsh for field). And this oak looked down on one of the greatest spectacles ever to have taken place in the valley - the Ryder Cup 2010.

Larger view of the 1838 print

Hando's pictures and text
courtesy of Chris Barber,
Blorenge Books.

In Caerleon, the Coronation of Queen Victoria was celebrated at 'King Arthur's Round Table' - the unexcavated Amphitheatre. Over four hundred feasted at tables arranged in a circle around a flagpole set in the centre of the site of the Roman arena. Has anyone got a picture of this?

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