It’s safe to say that the trees spread across the Bowcliffe Hall Estate are highly cherished. From century-old Beeches to senior, statuesque Oaks, and of course, the multitude of newly planted saplings – the team at Bowcliffe feel a deep connection and responsibility for all the trees on the Estate – seeing themselves as custodians as they will be here long after they have gone. Annually, a tree surveyor comes to the Estate, partly for health and safety, but mostly to take care of the trees and to maintain the health and well-being of each and every one.
So, when a 200-year old Beech was sadly felled at the end of 2017 due to irreparable rotting high up its trunk – Bowcliffe Custodian Jonathan Turner decided that along with the two new Beech trees and an Oak tree planted to replace it, the stump itself presented an opportunity to maintain its legacy.
Enter the creation of a bespoke brief and Tommy Craggs, an international award-winning tree sculptor from County Durham whose work is carved from trees that have either fallen naturally, become diseased or from wood that has come from a sustainably managed forests.
Jonathan’s idea for a glorious Eagle carved into the remains of the majestic Beech took into consideration a number of factors, including the location of the fallen tree next to aviation masterpiece, the soaring Blackburn Wing, the fact that Bentley, Aston Martin and other British automotive manufacturers have used similar amulets and that one of Bowcliffe tenants, the Alvis Archive Trust, once had a car called The Crested Eagle.
Heavy snowfall weather set work back by a week, but over the course of three and a half days, Tommy carved and oiled a commanding and magnificent Eagle, adding yet another curious object to the ever-evolving Bowcliffe landscape.
When asked if there were plans for future trees to be carved, Jonathan and Deputy Head Gardener, Natalie both agreed that If any other trees needed to be worked on or reduced in size – it would be a definite possibility. There has also been much talk of more successional tree planting around the grounds – ensuring that in 100-200 years there will still be magnificent giants for people to enjoy!