On Tuesday they started chopping down the
old copper beech tree in front of Southover Grange. The process
is to take four days; as I write this, the tree is still standing,
though it’s had virtually all its branches sawn off.
The only leaves which remain are right at the top. It looks
rather like the tree has a head, and all its limbs have been
amputated. But it still looks alive. By the time you read
these words, this bushy crown will have gone too: they are
chopping the tree down in four sections, so as to cause minimum
danger to passers by. Obviously they chop from the top down.
By the weekend only a hole in the ground will remain, and
a few leaves, presumably. It is uncertain how old the copper
beech is. They will be able to tell, I suppose, from the rings
in the trunk. It is almost certainly older than any person
in the town. Beeches can live up to 300 years. But it has
also been cut down in its prime - it was affected by a fungus
at its base, which is the reason it’s being killed.
The council put up a notice on a fence near the tree explaining
the necessity of its demise. It reads like an apology. The
tree is in the car park of Southover school: the safety of
the people using this car park must come first. We don’t
doubt the wisdom of this policy. But nonetheless we wish to
mourn the passing away of one of Lewes’ most prominent,
beautiful and well-loved inhabitants. Enjoy the week.