Holy Trinity Church War Memorial Trees

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010. 11:13am

On the 22nd of September 2010 I observed, and filmed, Cambridge City Council’s planning committee as they discussed the proposed felling of a healthy western red cedar tree and two holly trees in Holy Trinity Churchyard in the City Centre. This was the first City Council deliberation ever to have been filmed, the council only having adopted a policy of allowing such filming, with permission, this summer.

Felling the tree is being considered as the full council have decided to renovate the war memorial (which takes the form of a wooden shelter) that the red cedar tree is growing right next to. The tree’s roots run under the memorial, and branches are in contact with the roof.

The planning committee was not making a decision, but just advising the Executive Councillor Rodrick Cantrill, who will have the final say on what to do with the trees.

While they clearly agreed to fell the holly trees (only Cllr Hipkin abstained), the planning committee were evenly split on the proposal to fell the red cedar with Cllr Hipkin, Blair, Stuart and Dixon voting for the felling and Cllrs Wright, Nimmo-Smith, Znajek and Tunnacliffe voting to retain the tree. Cllr Dixon stated that he had no choice but use his casting vote in the same way as he had used his initial vote so the overall advice from the planning committee to Cllr Cantrill was that the tree ought be felled. (Often those using a casting vote consider they should use it to keep the status quo rather than to prompt action).

Cllr Cantrill was not present to hear the committee’s deliberations in person; and he had not publicly set any timetable for him to make his final decision. Decisions by executive councillors are often made in public, straight after they have had advice from the relevant committee, but in this case nothing is known about when Cllr Cantrill plans to make the decision or if he plans to communicate what he has decided, and his reasons, to the public.

The red cedar tree the City Council are considering felling. Image from committee report.

The red cedar tree the City Council are considering felling (The two main stems are from one tree). Image from committee report.

During a break in the meeting Cllr Clare Blair approached council officers and asked them to note in the minutes that Cllr Cantrill had planned to attend the meeting, but had not made it for the item which had been brought to the beginning of the agenda due to the presence of a public speaker. The meeting’s chair Cllr Dixon stated that Cllr Cantrill had not made him aware of his intention to attend. After the end of the meeting Cllr Blair asked committee officers to prepare summary of the debate, and a notice of the position reached, for Cllr Cantrill. Cllr Blair regularly seeks to personally direct officers in this manner rather than working through the committee.

Public Speaker – Rosemary Jones

The reason the fellings were being considered by the committee, and Cllr Cantrill, is that an objection to the proposed felling had been received from a resident Rosemary Jones (there may have been other objections, the report was unclear on that point). Without this objection unelected and unaccountable council officers would have taken the decision themselves. Rosemary Jones did not allow permission for her statement to the committee to be filmed; she said: “I have enough trouble speaking”. She began her contribution by saying this was the first time she had spoken in public for a long time. She said that the area had changed a lot since the memorial had been constructed and claimed it pre-dated the nearby telephone boxes, taxi-rank and members of the public sitting about chatting. Councillors were urged “to show sympathy and respect for both what the memorial stands for and for what the natural environment stands for”. Rosemary Jones suggested re-building the memorial back from the road, something she said had occurred at St. Andrew’s church. She then suggested to councillors that moving the taxi rank or phone boxes would be just as expensive (I don’t understand the relevance of that point at all).

Rosemary Jones then complained about the bad state of repair of the memorial and asked councillors to ensure elements of it were kept, especially the names. She suggested the council ought ask the army to help and urged that: “everyone should be consulted”. She said there had been no effective consultation on the council’s proposals to fell the trees as the consultation period was in August when “everyone is on holiday”. She said councillors needed to consult with the church, “as the memorial is on consecrated ground”. Rosemary Jones then asked councillors to consider “Christ’s teaching” asking them to ask themselves; “What would he have done?” She then claimed the tree was “one of the most remarkable trees on the planet” saying it had medicinal properties. Her remarks concluded with her saying to councillors that they had a particular duty to act responsibly as many students come to learn in Cambridge and she asked councillors to consider what they would be teaching those students if they agreed to fell the tree; she suggested they would take what they learnt in Cambridge all over the world and said councillors ought send a signal: “Don’t cut down healthy trees”.

Public speakers at council meetings are often interesting characters.

The Deliberations

The meeting was opened by Cllr Dixon and this item was taken first. Cllr Dryden queried if he ought declare an interest as it had been him who has been lobbying for the council to renovate the memorial. This was slightly naughty as he really should have taken advice from the council’s legal officer before the meeting. Cllr Dryden received advice from a council officer, decided he did have a prejudicial interest, and left the room for while the matter was discussed.

I was asked to stop filming when the public speaker approached the committee table, but was then told I could film again while the council’s principal tree officer and historic environment manager introduced the proposals, this occurred before the public speaking slot.

I was not allowed to move the camera at any point during the meeting.

Key points from the debate:

  • Cllr Tunnacliffee suggested revisiting the idea of refurbishing the memorial, he suggested replacing it with “an elegantly carved stone”. He questioned if a structure akin to a village bus shelter ought be kept in the modern city. He was told this was outside the scope of what the meeting had been asked to consider.
  • Cllr Stuart asked for more details of the replacement tree proposed; she was told it would be a “scholar’s tree” planted as a sapling, about 3m high. It would grow out over the pavement, make a substantial contribution to the street, and would have leaves which light would come through.
  • Cllr Blair asked for photos of examples of mature specimens of proposed replacement trees to be provided to future committee meetings.
  • Ian Nimmo-Smith and Cllr Wright pursued details of pruning options, given they voted to retain the tree it appears they may have been persuaded that removing some of the lower branches would be a practical option.
  • It was revealed that one reason for removing the tree was to allow scaffolding to be used to access the roof of the memorial for repairs.
  • Cllr Dixon said it was a good tree in the wrong place.
  • Cllr Nimmo-Smith said he thought it was a tree of an appropriate scale for its location.
  • Moving the memorial was thought not to be an attractive option as the council has secured funds from English Heritage to restore it in-situ.
  • Cllr Hipkin said the council had a duty to spend funds wisely, and suggested refurbishing the memorial with this tree growing so close to it and potentially damaging it in the future would be irresponsible.
  • Cllr Tunnacliffe said he thought the fact the replacement tree would not be evergreen meant something would be lost; Cllr Dixon said he thought opening the area up would be a good thing
  • Cllr Roman Znajek suggested a better form of consultation than notices on the trees in this case would have been stopping passers by in the street.

My View

I think this is a difficult decision, as shown by the result of the vote at the planning committee.

I think it would have been more useful if the planning committee had addressed the question of if the tree had a Tree Preservation Order on it and had it required conservation area consent to before works what, if any, works would the planning committee approve. I suspect this was what many councillors were doing, but some were introducing wider considerations. In that situation I would have voted to allow pruning of the first 3m or so, leaving the tops unaffected. I think the tree, as one of the very few trees in that area, is of immense value.

I think that while the planning committee deliberated primarily only on the single issue of the tree; the next steps have to involve a more holistic view of the plot of land, the memorial and the tree. I would need a lot more information, on the land ownership in the area and the views of those proposing restoring the memorial to exactly as it was (despite the world changing around it) before coming to a decision on the overall question myself. I think the area ought be brought back into every-day use and think it has the potential to offer a small tranquil area just out of the path of the busy areas it is surrounded by which I would suspect would be well used. I think adapting, moving, re-factoring the memorial within the immediate space should not be ruled out.

Background Document

108 comments/updates on “Holy Trinity Church War Memorial Trees

  1. John Lawton

    Richard, I haven’t had time to view the whole thing yet, but an excellent start to making council deliberations more accessible! Perhaps as the council is now co-operating, they might be able to offer a feed of the public address audio for the recording which would make a useful improvement in the audibility.

  2. Linden Ford

    As was the case with many people, I only heard about this proposal a few days before the Planning Committee. I did then email the Council, noting:
    . there seemed insufficient public consultation.
    . pruning could be an initial option.
    . The War Memorial is a unique and attractive building and deserves respect. Was there a possibility of moving it very slightly within the churchyard?
    . the mature Western Red Cedar is such an intrinsic, highly visible, and attractive feature of the City Centre.
    . the Sumach tree, which is also to be removed, forms a very pleasing shape next to the Memorial.
    . re the two Holly trees, to be felled because of blocking light to the Church: could they be pruned, at least initially, and then felling reconsidered if necessary?
    Having now watched the video (many thanks to Richard for filming it!), my impressions are:
    It seemed a few Committee members may have needed extra time to consider, and perhaps more information, possibly including computer simulations of how the area might look?
    It sounds as if moving the War Memorial even a few yards could cause damage to its fabric? Not a desirable result! However, perhaps more in-depth reports on this question could be obtained?
    It was mentioned that English Heritage would not approve a grant if the Memorial were moved. By a few yards? Is that certain?
    Yes, there’s a need to retain harmony of the whole garden area, including the railings and gate.
    Part of the reason for the removal of the Cedar is to make it easier to put up scaffolding whilst renovating the Memorial! That sounds a pretty poor reason? It reminds me of the Christ’s Lane development, where two or three smaller trees were removed (and never replaced) – I SEEM to recall it was so that contractors working on the telephone exchange could have easier access…?
    It was stated at the Meeting that there’s only a possibility that the cedar’s roots could affect the War Memorial, in the future??
    Unless I missed it, the Sumach tree was neither mentioned nor voted upon? Why not? Is it a ‘done deal’? This is a small tree. Is there any possibility it could be transplanted and survive?
    No hope for the Holly trees! Don’t think anybody discussed them in particular?
    The overall impression for me was the need to proceed with caution – before anything irrevocable is decided. Could they even try pruning the cedar first? Another point made was the fact that it’s an evergreen. It certainly does look good in the winter months.
    One result of the filming, I thought, was to show that at least some of the Committee Members were giving very careful consideration to all sides of the matter, and seemed genuinely torn between the best interests of the trees and the War Memorial. So did not all come across as chainsaw-crazy after all?!
    Noted the proposal to plant a Gleditsia in the event of these trees being removed – a very attractive species of tree. But would still be extremely sad if the current trees go.

  3. Linden Ford

    In spite of my quite positive comments about the Committee, it did seem quite an arbitrary way to come to a decision? A handful of people, at least one of whom said she wasn’t sure which way she’d vote. And not necessarily equipped with all the necessary information. They were told the cedar would look lopsided (literally?!) if the limb over the Memorial were pruned. How exactly would it look? And was more pruning than necessary being proposed in order to accommodate scaffolding?

  4. Richard Taylor Article author

    The member of the public who spoke at the planning meeting objecting to the felling of the trees at the Holy Trinity church also spoke against felling them, and other trees, on the 23rd of September 2010 at a special West/Central Area Committee which had been called to discuss proposed tree works on Jesus Green and Midsummer Common.

    Rosemary Jones said she would be contacting the Archbishop of Canterbury as part of her efforts to stop the council felling the trees.

  5. Linden Ford

    It was courageous of Rosemary Jones to put herself forward to speak at these meetings. Quoted as saying the cedar’s ‘the best tree on the planet’… Was she referring to the fact that this type of Red Cedar is apparently a member of the Thuja species, otherwise known as Arbor vitae, or Tree of Life? And is credited with medicinal properties? (I came across that info in one of my gardening books.) Then I looked further, on a website about conifers, and found the red cedar described as “held in the highest respect by [American] northwest coast peoples for its healing and spiritual powers.” “The power of the red cedar tree is said to be so strong a person could receive strength by standing wth his or her back to the tree.” And describing the red cedar as “the cornerstone of northwest coast Indian culture.”
    Meanwhile, the debate seems to be spreading?, with various comments in the local paper.
    I noticed that someone commented that it would have been better to delay the vote.
    Personally, I still hope that some way can be found both to renovate the War Memorial in its present form, and preserve all four trees! Still think they could start with some careful pruning?

  6. Linden Ford

    Shall try to curb my desire to make multiple comments here! But I was just in the City Centre, and noticed that… If one approaches Holy Trinity from Sidney Street, there’s a good view of the Cedar, the War Memorial, and the (for some reason never-mentioned?) SUMACH tree! This small tree, which seems to complement the shape of the War Memorial so well, is very delicate and beautifully shaped, and looks far too fragile to cause any damage. Yes, it is rather near the War Memorial, but is there no alternative to completely removing it?
    Forgot to add before: I think the tree officer said the red cedar was more likely a chance seed e.g. dropped by a bird, rather than deliberately planted – but it does seem to fit the street scene there remarkably well!
    Today, I received an acknowledgement from Councillor Cantrill that he had noted my comments at (2) and (3) above, which I had copied to him.

  7. Richard Taylor Article author

    Cllr Dryden has been in touch with me to say he had sought advice before the meeting and had arranged to speak to the council’s planning legal officer during a break in the meeting. He, and the officer, had been surprised by the chair’s last minute re-ordering of the agenda and so had been unable to do has had been intended.

  8. godfrey hill

    \nothing to do with red cedars but if you are the Richard Taylor of “How to read a church” would you be willing to give me your email address so that i can ask you if you can help me with an explanation of gates and stiles in churchyard walls
    Godfrey Hill

  9. Richard Taylor Article author

    I’ve written to Godfrey to let him know I’m not that Richard Taylor.

    He’s far from the first to ask for my email address. It is plainly displayed on the front page of my website along with my phone number; and I have a “contact” link pointing to the home page.

  10. Linden Ford

    I have been informed, in correspondence with Cllr Lucy Walker, that Cllr Cantrill has decided to bring the matter [of the Holy Trinity War Memorial trees] to Community Services Scrutiny committee on January 13th…. The process is that the recommendation will be discussed and voted on by the Scrutiny committee, after which Cllr Cantrill, as Exec councillor, will make a decision. This all takes place in public.

  11. Linden Ford

    Cllr Rod Cantrill has stated in correspondence that this matter (now scheduled for Community Services Scrutiny Committee on 13th January 2011) was deferred from the October meeting at his request, so that he could explore the options fully. He is keen to see if there is a solution that addresses everyone’s concerns.

  12. Linden Ford

    Have just seen the Agenda for the Scrutiny Committee on 13th January. From this, it seems extremely likely that the vote will be in favour of felling the Great Western Cedar tree and also the two large holly trees. [The little sumach tree, less controversial, disappeared weeks ago (I had hoped that could be transplanted, but guess it probably wasn't....).]
    These large evergreen trees have looked so lovely all winter. I don’t know if there’s anything else anybody can say, or whether the trees’ removal is by now pretty much a fait accompli?

  13. Wendy, Cambridge

    How can they possibly fell the Red Cedar without damaging the already fragile War Memorial??? The felling would also cause huge disruption, and could easily cause all sorts of other damage – the tree is in a VERY tight corner….. (It also has extensive roots.)

    A restored Memorial in its present form will still surely attract down + outs, ‘dossers’, drug users etc etc…. remember the overpowering stench of urine that always emanated from it?…. (A council officer told me some months ago that they intend to implement some sort of ‘patrolling scheme’ to keep out ‘undesirables’…. what madness, and at what cost?…). I really don’t think they’ve thought it all out properly. I feel the memorial should be moved or replaced altogether – the present one may well have simply had its day, it was built in an era when such problems scarcely existed.

    The Red Cedar probably needs careful pruning (same for the Holly Trees), but complete felling + removal would be so sad – the cedar is unique and characterful, and indeed truly lovely and uplifting in the winter months. It makes a huge contribution to the ‘street scene’, and is also part of the ‘urban wildlife support network’ (great roosting tree for birds + source of insect food, etc). Removing the Holly Trees also seems unnecessarily harsh.

    Is there also a degree of lack of co-operation from personnel at the church?? They don’t seem to want any involvement in the issues even though their Memorial is central to it all. Are they averse to allowing it to be moved even a little (further away from the busy street + overshadowing phone boxes – surely a preferable situation) ?

    I am also outraged that some of the councillors’ votes at the September meeting were influenced by the tree officer’s ridiculous statement that the tree was likely ‘self set’ and therefore somehow ‘less important’…. as if a passing bird could drop a seed so nicely and conveniently in the corner of the churchyard….. ludicrous…

    I have written letters about this to the Cambridge News and a recent one to Councillor Cantrill, but I too fear a ‘fait accompli’.

    I would attend the Jan 13th meeting if possible but unfortunately am unable to due to illness. I really hope other like-minded individuals will be able to attend and exert some sort of influence in favour of preserving these lovely trees. The current proposals are ill-judged and badly thought out.

    Also, what did the Council say after their recent wider consultation exercise ?? “NO HEALTHY TREES WILL BE FELLED”…….

  14. Linden Ford

    Am very glad to see your comments, Wendy.
    There seems to have been very little coverage of this in the local paper; it doesn’t really seem to attract much attention, surprisingly for such a central and visible site? (Unless I missed something more on days I haven’t seen the paper.)
    Am unlikely to be able to attend the Council meeting either, but am trying to write something to be circulated by the committee clerk. (I checked with him in December re doing that.) Am feeling a bit tired and befuddled at the moment (hence my referral to the Great Western cedar in my previous post – must have had railways somewhere on my mind!), was intending to have written to the committee by now.
    The holly trees seem to be a slightly separate matter in that it is the church who want them gone for causing a corner of the church interior to be dark. However, I went in there when they had a booksale on a dark November day (usually it’s closed to the public?!) – and was surprised how light the space was – I didn’t find it immediately obvious which corner had the hollies outsde.
    Don’t know what others think, but to me it seems commonsense to try skilful pruning of all three trees. Perhaps for a trial period to see if pruning alone does address the various issues, before voting for drastic, irreversible felling, and before renovation work starts.
    Probably many people still haven’t heard about this, and would be very shocked to see the trees cut down.

  15. Wendy, Cambridge

    You are so right re. people not hearing about things in time…. have only just heard myself that the Last Oak Tree on Midsummer Common (by the towpath, and a wonderful, characterful stump that still manages to produce branches + leaves) is also due for felling and “replacement” (with yet another willow….).

    Some very misguided officers at the council I fear….. they are going to ruin the charm + character of Cambridge….. yet the Councillors always defer to them, and don’t listen enough to the public (eg. the council still intend to replace the Leylandii that provide welcome shade by Jesus Green tennis courts with Limes that will drop a sticky ooze everywhere…. people who regularly play tennis there have of course objected, but…….).

    Have emailed my thoughts re. the Red Cedar to the 12 Scrutiny Committe councillors. One reply so far, saying there “sadly seems no other option than to fell the tree”…. They seem DETERMINED to restore the War Memorial EXACTLY how + where it is….. I still can’t see how it can be prevented from becoming the problem that it was before, frequented by unfortunate people with alcohol etc etc problems, who sleep and also urinate in there…. the councillors seem to think removing the tree + letting in more light, along with ‘patrolling’ the shelter (ie. someone going past + telling people they can or can’t sit in there…), will somehow solve this…….. oh dear…….

  16. Wendy, Cambridge

    There was a horrid one-sided Cambridge News article on 30/12/10…. [see it online]. So-called ‘conservation experts’ (who, exactly?) are said to support the felling. The ‘Cost to the Taxpayer’ of possible relocation etc etc is a highlighted and laboured point…. what about the cost of the Tree Felling Operation ?? A fait accompli and total stitch up seems to be on the cards..

  17. Wendy, Cambridge

    The cost of the (unworkable) ‘Monitoring’ to keep ‘undesirables’ out of the refurbished shelter is not mentioned either.

  18. Wendy, Cambridge

    The inevitable has happened and the Councillors have voted to fell the Red Cedar…. Misguided or, dare I say it, incompetent, council officers (eg. the tree officer whose professional opinion was that the nicely positioned Red Cedar was from “an accidental/chance seed, dropped by a bird”…..) write biased reports which, rather than public opinion, seem to influence the Councillors’ voting more than anything. This council are on their way to spoiling the character and charm of the city for decades to come. They seem to see trees as inanimate objects that can be chopped + changed according to their own highly dubious personal whims.

    [By the way I think I got mixed up about which tree was the oak on Midsummer Common that is due to be felled... the "large characterful stump" is in fact the old willow that they want to fell ? If the small oak does need replacing (?) then replanting with another oak would keep more variety in the area... but variety and character are concepts that do not seem to interest the council.]

  19. Linden Ford

    Thank you for giving us the sadly disappointing and, yes, almost inevitable result. I’ll see if there’s any information forthcoming re today’s deliberations, then maybe comment further. Hardly dare ask about the two holly trees?

  20. Wendy, Cambridge

    I’m not 100% sure, but so far as I know the Holly Trees are being viewed as a separate issue from the War Memorial/Red Cedar deliberations. I feel they are probably being seen as a matter for the Church to decide, with the council saying “If you want them felled and removed, for whatever reason, then that’s fine by us, we’ll be happy to oblige…” Shame, as holly trees look good in churchyards, and provide important food + shelter for birds. Don’t know why they can’t just be carefully pruned…

  21. Linden Ford

    Am feeling lost for words now! Having, along with other people, put so much thought and feeling into putting our case to the Council.
    I agree with the need to retain variety, character, and charm – otherwise the city could end up looking overly-sanitized?
    Just passed the red cedar with a friend who was appalled to hear that Councillors have voted in favour of felling. It was dark, the tall foliage was illuminated by a street lamp, and looked beautiful.
    Neither the red cedar nor the holly trees look as if they’ve been pruned for years? Surely that would be a reasonable first step, at least for a trial period before renovation work started? I believe two Labour Councillors did vote yesterday in favour of pruning?
    The issue of possible root damage in the future seems unclear/uncertain?
    And, yes, this strange matter of whether the red cedar was originally planned, or the result of a seed dropped by a bird. It is indeed remarkably well-placed, a tall, narrow tree adjacent to a tall, narrow building. The red cedar, hollies, church, and memorial all seem to be in a well-balanced relation to each other, e.g. if one stands opposite, outside M&S/Next?
    I can understand the desire to make the most of the renovation grant, to redesign the garden area and replant from scratch with trees possibly more manageable in urban surroundings. Yet this one amazing specimen of nature and wildness right in the heart of the shopping centre just lifts the spirits, like an unexpected gift.

  22. Wendy

    Another biased and harshly worded Cambridge News item today, sounding relieved that the ‘hold up’ and the ‘nuisance’ of the tree issue has been resolved…. Along with the council officers and the councillors who voted to fell the tree, I say “What soulless people”…. and do any of them really reflect public opinion..?

    And will the refurbished shelter not be beset by exactly the same problems as before?

  23. Wendy

    I posted my views on the Cambridge News website this a.m…. they still haven’t appeared over 6 hours later…. do they not publish ‘comments’ that they consider contentious ??

    I feel so sad about the cedar. While out and about this afternoon I had a lingering look at it. I was also viewing every interesting city centre tree that I saw with the same sadness, thinking “that one might be the next to go”…..

    Financial issues seem to be high on the agenda, with the council perhaps worried about legal action. But they say things like “the roots MAY be a threat, in the future” etc etc….. it’s madness..

  24. Wendy

    Hmmm, I take it back! My comment has appeared!

    I have also sent this to the C News Letters Page:

    “Unlike your June 2010 report about restoring the memorial, there is no mention at all in Saturday’s report of the Territorial Army volunteering to help with the work, FOR FREE…. (and, there was no mention at all in the June report of tree felling…). Have the council decided not to take the TA up on this ?? The money saved could have helped meet the cost of moving the shelter further back in the churchyard, and the perceived ‘need’ to fell the Red Cedar would be much less of an issue. This unique mature tree is in my opinion equally worthy of protection and conservation too…..”

  25. Wendy

    P.S. If the council’s budget does still involve getting help from the Territorial Army, then fair enough. I just feel that the issue may be worth checking out.
    …..Think I’ve said enough now !…..

  26. Linden Ford

    A vague idea, whether those of us who have been quite involved in this, might meet up sometime in town to compare notes. (Or would it be best to put the experience behind us?) (And of course we ‘bloggers’ might prefer to stay as disembodied voices?!)

  27. Wendy

    Not one single letter all week in the Cambridge News re. any of this….. would be amazed if they hadn’t received ANY…. Also some very pro ‘Dryden’s Project’/anti tree reporting throughout… Do I detect a degree of complicity…?? I also wonder about tree surgeons/suppliers of ‘new’ trees being given so much work in Cambridge…. hey ho, I think I’ve had enough of it all for now ! (A friend is still very much ‘on the case’ though, but I reckon nothing can make any difference now…..) :-(

  28. Wendy

    Holy Trinity Church have just put up a Notice on the front of the War Memorial, as they are now doing their own (Ely Diocese?) Consultation about the WM ‘Restoration Project’ (including felling of the Red Cedar “to facilitate the restoration and prevent future damage to the structure”… hmmmm….). Will try and psych myself up to do yet another letter ! I couldn’t read all the details without my specs, but think the due date said 21st March.

  29. Linden Ford

    Any final objections to felling of the Red Cedar Tree and/or Holly trees must be received by no later than 21st March.
    The address to write to is The Diocesan Registrar, 1 The Sanctuary, Westminster, London, SW1P 3JT.
    State name, address, and whether live in Parish and whether on electoral roll.
    This looks like the absolutely last (and previously unexpected?!) chance to object.
    I intend to ask, re. the Red Cedar, if they could try cutting back the very lowest branches of just the trunk’s ‘stem’ nearest the Memorial (there are three stems I think?), and certainly not the whole stem itself. That should leave the roof of the Memorial completely clear?? And not leave the tree a mere crooked stump as I believe was suggested as part of Council discussions? Might suggest an independent tree surgeon’s opinion. And again pruning of the Holly trees in first instance to see if that resolved the church’s issue of blocked light.

  30. Wendy

    Thanks for the contact info. At the risk of complicating the whole picture… My personal view (and, it would seem, not the view of many others) is that the notion of restoring the War Memorial Shelter to exactly what it was, is a very flawed one. Times have changed and it is bound to attract the same problems as before. It is dark + dingy in there anyway, and it has those ghastly ‘prison bars’ at all the window apertures (to try to prevent ‘unauthorised access’ ?). I wouldn’t want to go and sit in there – to be followed in by eg. a tramp with a bottle of cider – and then feel a bit trapped (I speak from experience! – an incident several years ago, before the shelter fell into total disrepair). Yet the red cedar is to be sacrificed for this…

    I would have liked to see the garden area opened up more, the overshadowing phoneboxes (part of the ‘historic environment’ apparently…) relocated, and the red cedar tree retained (perhaps very carefully pruned/tidied up a bit) and a NEW Memorial Feature created (something without a roof on it). There would still be room for the ‘Gleditsia’ in there too, to add variety ! The Hollies might also be reduced/pruned, but total obliteration seems very harsh.

  31. Linden Ford

    One week to attempt to save the Western Red Cedar…! I see from Rosemary Jones’s recent post re Alexandra Gardens that there is also an email address (as well as the postal address) for Holy Trinity Memorial tree work objections: ian.blaney@1thesanctuary.com
    The more I look at this tree, the more I think what a great loss it would be. It’s such an intrinsic part of the city centre.
    Re the Holly trees, I was inside the church today at one of their book sales, and don’t personally find that the hollies make it too dark. (Though don’t know how it looked originally, before the hollies were left to grow so large.) An initial attempt at pruning to see if that ‘worked’ still seems reasonable.
    Must say I’ve always had a soft spot for the Memorial, finding its unusual shape and materials very appealing (think it and the Red Cedar complement each other well!) Yes, it’s a very complicated little site! Can see what you mean, Wendy, the points you make. And yes, agree that a Gleditsia is a very attractive species.
    I do hope more people will write to the Diocese this week to object to the felling of the Red Cedar (and also of the 2 Hollies). Yes, have to psych myself up again this weekend to write another letter!
    Basically, still think they could TRY pruning the Red Cedar, cutting back the lower branches growing from the fork nearest the memorial. [And not massacre the tree’s shape by removing any of the ‘stem’ (believe that’s the term for a forked section of trunk?)]. Then they could see how the space looked and whether it enabled them to access the roof for repairs? And TRY pruning the Holly Trees. Saying all this yet again, I feel like an old stylus playing the same worn groove, but feel it’s worth it?!

  32. Wendy

    Yes, I too feel to truly have Stuck Record Syndrome re. all of this !! aaarrrrgggghhh ! I do hope to manage to churn out One More Letter though [and can hopefully turn my mind to it soon, now that the matter of an adventurous nephew unaccounted for in Japan has been happily resolved...]. Maybe I won’t say too much about questioning the wisdom of keeping that particular memorial… will see what ends up on the paper… (Every time I go past the area I too think the cedar looks really lovely, and so ‘wild’ and characterful…. I keep visualising the scene without it…. NOT good… I also think felling it would leave a huge void, with lots of ugly bricks and concrete exposed ….the proposed ‘new tree’ would never grow tall enough to do such a good job of masking that….)..ZZZzzzzzzzz….

  33. Linden Ford

    Have finally composed my letter! Will email and put one in post just in case that’s required. If people don’t know what Parish they live in, to include in letter to Diocese, there’s a website at http://www.achurchnearyou.com with a ‘parish finder’ (one types in one’s postcode to find Parish)….

  34. Linden

    Apparently papers re objection to tree felling at Holy Trinity Church, and Council’s response, were forwarded to Deputy Chancellor for Ely Diocese this week, and now await his decision.

  35. Wendy

    I’ve also heard on the grapevine that Sian Reid, leader of the City Council, has “recommended a Review of the evidence and procedures which led to the decision to fell the Red Cedar”…. I wish an outside agency could do any Review though, as, cynic that I am, I feel the Council MAY just use it to cover their tracks and say “Look, we did everything the correct way”….? (re. the ‘evidence’, there was that crazy assumption by the tree officer that the Cedar was “self-set from a chance seed” dropped by a (very clever) bird and therefore somehow less important, and also dubious predictions as to how the tree MIGHT pose a threat in the future – I reckon it will by now have stopped growing….). I’ve also heard that that particular tree officer is away on ‘extended leave’, which could hopefully be good news for trees in general in Cambridge…. (depending on what the officer’s colleagues are like). Hmmmmmmmm….

  36. Wendy

    ooops! Just looked on Google and it said “trees don’t stop growing”…. Maybe their growth rates slow with age though ?? Anyway I still can’t imagine the Cedar’s roots would wreak that much havoc in the future…

  37. Wendy

    It’s recently dawned on me that the Red Cedar could well have been planted around exactly the same time that the War Memorial shelter was built, and that it is in fact deliberately intended to be part of the tribute to the war dead. It is after all the ‘Arbor Vitae’, or ‘Tree of Life’. If it is felled then a very important and intentional symbolic part of the memorial may well have been destroyed??

  38. Linden

    That’s an interesting point…. Wonder where one might be able to find any records of planting and the original memorial garden? (and also the answer to that old ‘chestnut’ of whether the tree was self-set…)?

  39. Wendy

    I’d go and do an ‘archive search’ or something myself IF I could, but unfortunately I have M.E. and nowhere near enough energy. (Years ago I used to enjoy rooting about in the archives to research land ownerships, as part of a job in a council’s highways dept in Yorkshire… felt like real ‘detective work’ at times!). I can’t find anything about the HT memorial garden on the Internet.

    I seem to recall the dodgy Tree Team folks said there was “no record” of the cedar being planted, but then they would… (and that’s when they concocted the Clever Birdie myth, which some of the councillors, astonishingly, were taken in by…).

    Maybe someone could more precisely work out the Red Cedar’s age – same age as the shelter, hopefully!

  40. Wendy

    I just found this in an email sent to me by the War Memorials Trust last year:

    “The Trust only holds information about war memorials which we have helped through our grant schemes or casework and do not hold general historic information. As a result, we do not hold a definitive list of all the war memorials in the UK and nor do we store information about all war memorials. However, you may wish to contact the UK National Inventory of War Memorials (contact details below) based at the Imperial War Museum. The Inventory aims to compile a comprehensive record of all of the estimated 100,000 war memorials in the UK.”

    UK National Inventory of War Memorials c/o Imperial War Museum Lambeth Road London SE1 6HZ
    T: 020 7207 9851/9863 F: 020 7207 9859 E: memorials@iwm.org.uk
    W: http://www.ukniwm.org.uk

    Have therefore just emailed this to them…….

    ‘Hi. I am very interested in finding out more about the Holy Trinity, Sidney Street, Cambridge, WW1 memorial. It takes the form of a wooden shelter and a ‘memorial garden’. Of particular interest is whether or not a wonderful Western Red Cedar tree (‘Arbor Vitae’) adjacent to the shelter was intentionally planted as part of the tribute to the war dead, presumably sometime in the 1920s? This tree is now sadly threatened with felling as part of the local council’s plans to renovate the shelter element of the memorial. Any information or pointers as to how to acquire information/access records about the creation of the shelter and the memorial garden would be very much appreciated.’

    [That's it for now, my brain has just crashed....!!]

  41. Linden

    Glad you’ve sent that email, Wendy! I can’t go rummaging about in archives either, as have similar health issues. Maybe there’s something about sensitivity to the environment! Shall have another look online but, yes, it’s very hard to find anything….

  42. Wendy

    Oh Dear, ‘Judgement Day’… a nasty brown envelope has just come through the door… Ely Diocese have (not unexpectedly, it was a stitch-up and pretty predictable all along) decided the trees should be felled, mainly taking into account the Council’s dodgy Tree Team & co reports………
    (I never did get a reply from the Imperial War Museum, perhaps because their records are by no means comprehensive/complete.)
    :-( :-( :-(

  43. Wendy

    It’s all a load of words, words, words, manipulated and key facts disregarded, so as to present the verdict that they all wanted all along. Like the conifers felled in February on Jesus Green – again, WHY?? (I really miss them) – once the Red Cedar is gone, it’s gone, and its unique character and uplifting presence, and the variety that it lends to the scene, can never be recreated. Hate!

  44. Linden

    Yes, I too received a miserable brown envelope this morning. Useful for wiping away the tears that reading the Judgment produced….
    Apart from their wanting a completely unobscured view of the memorial from all sides, one of the main points of the Judgment seemed to be about avoiding antisocial behaviour going on behind the branches?!
    Still think they could have bypassed red tape and experimented with pruning as a first step.
    At least we know we tried. Not looking forward to ‘the work’ being done….

  45. Linden

    You posted your latest comment while I was writing mine, Wendy. Yes, it’s a big disappointment and will have a real impact. (When I say not looking forward to the work, I mean dread!)

  46. Rosemary Jones

    I’m asking for clarification as to whether or not the Registry and the Council think the tree is a threat to the WM. If the answer is that it is then the War Memorial Trust will fund its relocation to a place further back in the churchyard, and the TA could do the relocation work – no extra costs though the railngs might need an extension. The Registry’s Judgement indicated that they took the Council’s word for it that the roots would be a threat eventually but at the same time accepted the War Memorial Trust statement that they would not fund the restoration if the Memorial was relocated because it was not at risk in its present position. The prevalence of these trees being planted adjacent to war memorials probably originated with the Native American legend of a man who was so generous that the Great Spirit decided that when he died the red cedar would grow where he is buried. The Internet has numerous examples of this adjancency both in the UK and in the US and Canada. Counillor Znajek suggested at the first meeting that someone should ask passers by what they thought. I did, and everyone who answered coherently said they would prefer the tree to be pruned rather than felled. What is also missing from the Judgement is any reference to the climate action value of the tree – conifers absorb 4 times as much CO2 as deciduous trees, and that position is in a relatively high concentration of CO2. Trees also keep places cool in summer. It seems the Registry (and some elements in the Council) are still in the climate change denial frame of mind. Basically, there is no financial or other reason why the War Memorial cannot be moved further back in the graveyard, and every reason for not felling this tree.

  47. Wendy

    Absolutely spot on. The Council seem to say “The tree has to be felled because its branches and roots POSE A THREAT to the WM”… We say “Move the WM further back then”, but they counter with “The WM Trust would not fund a relocation because it is NOT UNDER THREAT”…. Madness. Some very dubious goings on, inflated egos perhaps making those involved reluctant to change their minds about the tree, and to admit that the whole decision-making process has been flawed and not based on true facts. Plus I also feel that the Red Cedar IS an intentional and symbolic part of the Memorial, deliberately planted there.

  48. Wendy

    I think what I meant to say above is that the WM Trust will not help to fund the REFURBISHMENT of a WM if is relocated, unless the relocation is because the WM is “under threat”.

  49. Rosemary Jones

    The Ely Registry supports the tree’s felling on the basis of very contrary reasoning and the Judgement can be obtained from the Registry to see that. What the Registry QC did not know at the time of writing the Judgement was all the information regarding why cedar trees are planted next to war memorials, nor did he mention CO2 sequestration or the general opinion that healthy trees should not be felled here. However the Bishop of Ely and the Archbishop of Canterbury seem to be saying leave the tree alone. At this point in time, there is some clearing around the War Memorial just the right size for it to be moved back a couple of yards and away from the branches. Will that be the conclusion ?
    Will common sense and respect for nature prevail ? Will religious and cultural meaning take precedence over ignorance and superficiality ?

  50. Rosemary Jones

    The answer to the question in 52 is NO. Councillor Cantril continues to refuse my offer of fundraising the £10K he says is required to be added to the Council’s contribution to restoring the War Memorial and at the same time insisting he appreciates trees. That £10k would replace the War Memorial Trust’s offer which they’d revoke if the War Memorial was moved back two yds away from the tree’s branches and to a quieter and less polluted place in the Churchyard, and even though their guidelines say that they will fund renovations after relocation if a war memorial is under threat. The Council’s Legal Department have not answered my request to look into the irregularities of the meetings when the decisions were made to fell the tree, irregularities which include misinformation and lack of information, the misinformation being that the tree was self set and its roots threatening to the War Memorial, the missing information being that cedar trees – the Tree of Life, are planted alongside War Memorials from Canada to the USA, throughout Europe and with the origins of this practice – the tree being the gateway to everlasting life – being in Asia. So much for heritage in this town. So no one is allowed to fundraise for the £10K the Council say the War Memorial Trust will withdraw if the tree is moved and this offer, which has been around for at least a year and could be a way of solving the problem, is being refused by someone who says they appreciate trees.

  51. Rosemary Jones

    Further to the above comment, the Council’s Legal Department have now apologised for not coming back to me as to whether or not it is legal to uphold committee decisions based on misinformation and insufficient information and have said their response will be prepared by the end of the week. The Environment Department have yet to respond to my request to check a letter intended for the European Court of Justice, a request arising from concerns that its content is incorrect, and as yet there has been no apology for the delay there. Considering that every passer by who coherently answered to the question ‘Would you prefer this tree pruned or felled – Yes or No ? said pruned, it seems rational to expect the Council to at least clearly justify their reasons for felling it. That in these climate change times they cannot sufficiently care about maintaining a tree which sequesters four times the amount of CO2 than the replacement they are intending is about as bone chilling as their inability to work out how to persuade the War Memorial Trust to help them move an already dilapidated structure two yds back to a more appropriate place or just move it with the help of the Territorial Army who have offered their services for free.
    All this makes one wonder what chance there is for rebalancing the carbon cycle before extreme weather inhibits our ability to limit it ? And especially as this City is renowned for its scientific erudition and leading on climate action, at least theoretically.
    I have tried to put myself in these people’s position – taking the quick fix way out because that was what was decided, but really those who provided the misinformation regarding the tree’s supposed threat to the War Memorial and failed to provide the information relevant to this Tree of Life’s significance in the context of remembering the war dead should not be conerned about their reputation, because we all make mistakes. Better for them that they ask for a retrial before the tree is felled and they have to live with it for the rest of their lives.

  52. Wendy

    Terrible decision. Just for the record, I posted this on the Cambridge News website: “The Red Cedar is also known as the ‘TREE OF LIFE’ – and it is highly likely that this tree was deliberately planted at the same time that the shelter was created. The tree is therefore an intrinsic and intentional PART OF THE TRIBUTE TO THE WAR DEAD. The Council are about to destroy that. (Also, please note that the Council tree officer said, at a crucial meeting, that the Red Cedar was probably a self-set tree, likely to be from a “chance seed dropped by a bird” – how LUDICROUS – yet this influenced councillors’ votes to have the tree felled.) The shelter could easily be moved further back in the churchyard and the tree preserved – a variety of funding options are available. The Red Cedar tree also makes a spectacular and characterful contribution to the street scene, and all efforts should be made to preserve it. However the council seem hell bent on destroying it (AND therefore DESECRATING the memorial…). Mistakes are being made but they refuse to admit to them…”

  53. Wendy

    Two further comments I’ve just posted in the CNews (but nothing published as yet)…. 1) This project is a waste of money, and has not been thought through in a realistic way. Sadly, Cllr Dryden and others are deluded if they think the War Memorial Shelter can ever be anything other than a tramps’ doss-house, drug den, and stinking urinal. (Apparently there will be new lead put on the roof – that will soon get nicked too, thieves will be able to access it very easily). Times have very much changed since the shelter was built. It will always be dark inside, tree or no tree, and will again attract the sort of ‘use’ that will cause many to be put off from venturing inside. I’m sure many people will be upset to see the lovely tree cut down, it has been a special feature in the city centre for decades. Maybe they should all complain now and not after the event, before it really is too late.

    2) The shelter will always be dark inside with or without the adjacent tree, and after the revamp it will still attract antisocial behaviour. It is obscured and overshadowed by phoneboxes too, but the council will not contemplate moving those (part of the ‘historic environment’ apparently). I thought ‘Arboriculturalists’ looked after trees, rather than hacking down healthy ones (though not in Cambridge it would seem). Could they not recommend and at least TRY a bit of pruning first??? (That would be too sensible though).

  54. Wendy

    P.S. The article was first published by Cllr Dryden’s pals (?) at the CNews early evening yesterday. It has been re-published this morning, minus yesterday’s comments, and is currently hidden away and with no mention of its existence on the Home Page or anywhere else (I only found it by typing ‘Tree’ into the ‘search box’). Fait accompli.

  55. Wendy

    Aha! I found the online CN report by clicking the ‘News’ tab on the top left, and then another tab for ‘Cambridge’. I suppose it is less prominent as it is now all seen as ‘old hat’ by a lot of people. I have found the CN reporting rather biased and pro-Dryden throughout though, with this wonderful cedar tree portrayed as a bit of a pain, holding up his philanthropic project, etc… humph

  56. Rosemary Jones

    The felling date is Tuesday January 31st, down with religious and mythological meaningfulness, absent any respect for the wishes of the then city fathers who doubtless held an inaugeration ceremony to mark the occasion of the Memorial’s completion and the tree’s planting, making the felling an act of desecration, lost to children the education that such a combination affords, sorrow to people, who value religioness and nature, every time they walk down Sidney Street, and all this mostly because once ignorance gets hold in an institution, it is likely to be upheld because to challenge it means potential altercation, and also because the Councillors see themselves as employers who are meant to be supporting those who they employ, forgetting that in reality they are employed by us. If the Council of a city like this cannot work out how to fit a memorial and a tree in a churchyard, what chance is there of recovering from our economic woes and limiting climate change. Nor is money the problem, as is so insistently maintained: the Territorial Army could do much of the work, savings could be made by not having to fell the tree or move the phone boxes as the Ely Registry require and in order to give the Memorial more visibility. How come these people are so short of empathy that they are unable to do the research or even accept the research findings when they are told about them and which would have prevented this travesty ? It’s difficult to have empathy for those who don’t have it when their actions cause so much grief.

  57. Richard Taylor Article author

    If it’s true the felling date is the 31st of January when the council have announced work will start on the 6th of February that’s very sneaky.

    Perhaps the council don’t want the press and TV cameras to capture the felling?

  58. Wendy

    “1000% Well Said, Rosemary.” What more can any of us say? The Council (and perhaps also the Church) have been bloody-mindedly determined to stick by this very bad decision about the Red Cedar tree, from the very start. No matter how much anyone exposes the (huge) flaws in the decision-making processes (some of this influenced too by blatant untruths such as the preposterous “chance seed” myth) they seem, in this age of disgusting and insulting PR spin, to be able to dress all sorts of things up in a way that justifies their actions. Most of us can see through it all, yet, so frustratingly, they ultimately seem accountable to no-one, and so “get away with murder”.

    I walked past this unique, characterful tree yesterday and saw the bare earth around it where all the vegetation has been cleared – it looked just like an area prepared for an execution, which is what this is. The two Holly trees looked lovely too, but they too are due to be obliterated. All totally and utterly depressing.

  59. Rosemary Jones

    I was misinformed about the commencement of felling. It is Monday unless the weather prohibits it. The Council today say they were aware of the relationship between war memorials and cedar trees. The officers and councillors responsible for breaking that tradition will be walking past the site alsmost everyday. Will they be even thinking how their disrespect of the War Dead led to their actions or will they continue to be, as their blog says, delighted at the outcome ?

  60. Wendy

    The Council say that they are “aware of the relationship between War Memorials and Cedar Trees” (Arbor Vitae/Tree of Life)… YET… their OWN Principal Tree Officer told councillors, at a crucial meeting (the one where the vote was tied at 4-4 and then the Chair had a casting vote, meaning that they had – undemocratically – voted twice) that this particular Cedar was “from a chance seed, dropped by a bird”…. despite the fact that it is carefully positioned next to the memorial shelter… Oh Dear, I think I’ve had (more than) ENOUGH of Planet Cambridge….

  61. Rosemary Jones

    Perhaps Cambridge doesn’t deserve a tree as magnificent as this one, certainly the War Memorial Trust need a revamp, as they have facilitated its demise. How ? They did not accept the Council saying on the funding application that the Memorial is at risk from the tree’s overhanging branches, which meant they wouldn’t fund its renovation if it was moved. So the Council’s been scared of losing the funding and therefore they are going to fell the tree. That means the WMT is now party to a desecration – the tree would have been blessed at the War Memorial’s inauguration, and acting against the interests of what memorials represent, hardly good charitable practice. Not that the Council couldn’t have worked it differently, but the tree officer at the time, with a reputation for cutting conifers, was determined the tree was of no consequence, and once that was doing the rounds, round the Council it was with no one prepared to take on the bad mythology. Still, a phone call to the Leader or to Councillor Cantrill might get them to open their emails, even at this late stage, because at least one of those emails they will need to take notice of.

  62. Wendy

    Yes, just moving the shelter back a metre or so was hardly such a big ask of the War Memorials Trust, was it? And they must surely be aware that cedars are often planted next to memorial features – yet they never picked up on this when the Council asked to move the shelter a little because of a Cedar tree (a move which would have enabled this wonderful tree element of the Holy Trinity War Memorial to survive)……………

  63. Adam Pogonowski

    If this felling date has been moved it is an outrage, and very underhand from Council officers, Cllr. Rod Cantrill, and Cllr. Sian Reid, the Leader. I have emailed to ask about it, but even though Cllr. Cantrill responded immediately to another email just before the one I sent about date of felling, he hasn’t bothered to reply to that one.

  64. wab


    cambridge “holy trinity” “war memorial”

    This leads to a link with the following information (the relevant Cambs County server is dead right now, but it’s unlikely there is more information than the below online):

    Programme of ceremony of unveiling and dedication of Holy Trinity War Memorial, (Sunday) 14 May 1922, P22/6/17.

    There might be something in there, if this cedar tree was planted then. There might also be something in the Cambridge Evening News on 15 May 1922 (or a day or two later).

    Has anyone looked this up?

  65. Richard Taylor Article author

    wab didn’t include a link; there are various documents held by Cambridgeshire County Council in its archives relating to the construction and unveiling of the memorial. The link to one of them is here (currently down).

    The Cambridge Central Library has copies of The Cambridge News (and its predecessors) on microfiche.

  66. Wendy

    I would go to the library and look this up, but am unable to do so because of a long-term illness (I have tried checking it out online before but couldn’t find anything). Hope there is someone somewhere able to check it and find some answers!!

  67. David

    Notwithstanding all of the above, I think people are going to be quite shocked when this tree is cut down tomorrow.

    Take a look at the photo near the top of this article and then imagine a group of tree surgeons turning up with a chainsaw, and cutting it down in front of shoppers, tourists and other passers-by.

    A lot people will be appalled by this act of vandalism and the apparent lack of consultation.

  68. Wendy

    They may well do the felling overnight when tourists, passers-by etc are few and far between? Won’t there have to be a road closure for safety reasons, too?

    WHY can’t the Council and the War Memorials Trust admit their errors and work towards the (SIMPLE, frankly) solution of moving the wooden shelter just a LITTLE further back (preferable anyway) and therefore preserving this amazing tree???

    ANYONE out there able to persuade them, as we approach ‘Zero Hour’?

  69. Wendy

    Imagine the scene without the two Holly trees too – another very bad decision.

    Will the stump of the Cedar remain, perhaps with a plaque to dedicate the whole sorry mess and Lack of Greenery to Mrs Diana Oviatt-Ham, the (then) Principal Tree Officer at the Council, who managed to persuade enough people (especially Councillors and then the WMT) that the Cedar was of little importance as it was…. (SORRY to have to say this YET AGAIN)… “likely to be self-set, from a chance seed dropped by a bird”…..?

  70. wab

    The Shire Hall archives room is closed on Mondays but fortunately the Cambs Collection in the central library also has a copy of the pamphlet for the “Ceremony of Unveiling and Dedication” of the Holy Trinity War Memorial (C.62.PAM).

    Unfortunately the pamphlet is mostly about the service that was conducted inside the church. There is a brief description of the memorial itself but no mention of any trees. There is a sketch of the memorial by someone by the name of E.C. Hullock, and that does not show any tree where the cedar is (but then again, it might not).

    There is an article in the 15 May 1922 Cambridge Daily News and it also does not mention anything about trees, just that the memorial was meant as “a place of rest and shelter”.

    Of course none of this means that they should be cutting the tree down.

  71. Wendy

    Many many thanks for checking that out, wab. Shame no mention of trees. Perhaps the Cedar/Arbor Vitae was added a little later (and certainly not by a bird). And, as you say, still no reason to justify its felling.

  72. Rosemary Jones

    The reasons for the association between cedar trees and burial grounds generally is well described -www.dulaneysofmississippi.blogspot.com/cedareesin cemeteries, and, though I have been banned from reaching Councillor Cantrill directly, I have written this plus a long list of examples, there are thousands more, to English Heritage who are requesting the Council determines the tree’s significance before it is felled, and this is copied to Council CEO, Legal Department, Environment Department, Open Space etc.
    The WMT still don’t understand why being party to a project which includes the demolition of a feature significantly commemorating the War Dead contravenes the Charity Commission guidelines, or why I am referring the Trust to the Commission. Presumably the background will be sufficient to enable people everywhere to see exactly what has happened and why, and all because of the untruths which were allowed to stand.

  73. Rosemary Jones

    This dereliction of consciousness is apparent in the Anglican Church, who don’t seem to register the word ‘desecration’, the charities who are not able to promote the totality of what they stand for, and the politicians who can no longer assign meaning to words like Holy Trinity, Tree of Life and War memorial. I guess this deficiency will remain until people everywhere realise it is not going to ensure them or their children a sustainable future, and require meritocracies to oversee their lives.

  74. Rosemary Jones

    The evergreenery and the connotations are not going to be replaced, despite English Heritage wanting another cedar tree in the Churchyard. When reminded about the conifer capacity to sequester CO2 at 4 times the rate of deciduous trees, one of which is the intended replacement, there was no recognition of the relevance of this to climate change. The replacement deciduous tree was chosen by the Councillor who chaired the first meeting about the tree and when the then lead tree officer dismissed the cedar as ‘self seeded’,(or maybe by a passing bird) something which he emphasised in his summing up and which could have been why the 4:4 vote became 5:4 against the tree because he voted twice. When asked why the consultation hadn’t included a survey of the opinions of passers by, one of the three Council officers watching, and quite happily, said that it would have been too expensive. They were there for at least an hour, and such a survey could have been done by one less well paid officer in half the time. When reminded that Cambridge residents had asked that no more healthy trees should be felled, the response was that the Council had to manage many trees in the City, and had planted at least twice the number it had felled.
    When reminded that felling a tree is also destroying an eco system, the conversation was terminated by the sound of the chainsaw.

  75. Wendy

    Now What? The usual “after-the-event” outcry? Sensationalist headlines about the tree felling in our esteemed local paper?

    In a year’s time a photo of Cllr Dryden in said paper, looking forlorn because the restored wooden shelter has again fallen victim to ASB (“how could this happen”?… doh) and with no “tree is blocking the view/making it dark” excuse)? Plus the (easily accessible) lead on the roof will also have been stolen?

    Spectacularly bad PR for this Council….

  76. Wendy

    18.45pm. Have just been to inspect the Terrible Void – I couldn’t bear to be anywhere near while the chainsaws were actually there (astonished too that they must have done it during the day and, as David said, in full view of shoppers, tourists etc). Just one sorry stump, and a rather lovely aroma of Cedar….. but I feel truly deeply sad. Outraged too that a greater effort was not made to accommodate tree and shelter (rather than going for the quick-fix, cheapest option?) – it would not have been that complicated to sort out….

  77. Rosemary Jones

    One of the people at the tree’s felling said that the cedar tree legend was well known, and that there were many examples of this tree being planted near war memorials and in burial grounds (or words to that effect). Though they are employed by the Council, they didn’t have anything to do with this project, which is one reason the councillors may not have known about the tree’s significance, the other being that the then lead tree officer either wasn’t sufficiently trained to research before speaking or under pressure to prove the tree was of no significance so it could be felled to enable the £10K WMT grant. Anyway, next time, they should do the research before the first councillor meeting, because in this Council, once a decision is made, it is difficult to change it, such is the group cohesion, and even though,as in this case, the consequences deny residents the everyday evergreen experience which the cedar provided in Sidney Street. It has yet to be decided whether or not English Heritage will get their wish that another cedar is planted near the War Memorial, and it is very unlikely a roadside CO2 absorber will be installed to make up for the tree’s absence, unless of course, the next council are climate change aware to the extent of putting the money where the climate action is.

  78. Wendy

    Nothing in the local news yet… Maybe they won’t want to whip up any further criticism of the Council and this particular project? Have got nothing more to say that is printable..

  79. Linden

    I hadn’t logged on for a while, so hadn’t heard about the imminent date for felling. Was walking towards Holy Trinity this afternoon. And wondering whether to send the Council a couple of drawings I’d done of the tree at the end of last year, showing its prominent position in the street. Was just about to send the tree(s) my usual good wishes/vibes as I drew level with the church….

  80. Wendy

    Hi Linden, I was concerned that you might not have heard about this in time…. Sadly they have done what I think they were ALWAYS going to do, no matter WHAT was pointed out re. the flaws in their procedures (and errors which influenced decision-making at ALL the “committees” etc that they say this went through – “It’s been through all the committees” seems to be the Council’s way of saying “We’ve done everything correctly”… SO INTRANSIGENT.. I had a frightful phonecall (not a good idea when I have M.E…) about this with one of those involved, just recently – they totally “stonewalled” me, etc). Plus the Council ignored new info about the cedar’s importance, etc etc (the lack of hollies isn’t great either, is it?). The War Memorials Trust were at fault too about not funding restoration if the shelter was moved JUST A LITTLE (but the council did not approach them in the right way – they have continually blamed the cedar for the ASB that caused the shelter to fall into disrepair…)

    I don’t feel like going anywhere near that area now (but have to as it is my local area) – the gaping void really is painful to see (and feel)…

  81. Wendy

    P.S. I emailed a ‘zero hour’ letter to the Cambridge News late Friday, but it was not printed (and with a little editing) until yesterday, the day AFTER the felling…. groan… (I sent them another last night, a polite one, but I don’t suppose they will print it…)

  82. Rosemary Jones

    Council 4 Heritage 0 may about to be a further defeat for everything cept money and sanitization, the target this time the houses to be replaced by a newbuild adjacent to Parkers Piece.

    Maybe the Lib Dem Councillors could group to decide whether or not it is in the City’s (and their own electoral) interest to continue the relentless attack on what we are used to. And why this attack ? Keeping officers busy ? Officers demanding to be busy ? The equivalent of a cosmetic fetish ?

    Fortunately, the Freedom of Information Act means we will be able to see how a UK City Council and a Charity as significant as the War Memorial Trust could not work out between them how to move a memorial two or three yards back to a more peaceful and less noisy place in a churchyard so that a much loved tree could remain.

    Perhaps the grouping Lib Dem Councillors would do well to also take a straightforward problem solving test, with the highest scorers automatically taking over the policy decision making.

  83. Wendy

    The Red Cedar (and indeed the hollies) would have looked amazing in all this snow… It’s a shame the snow didn’t happen a week ago, it would have at least postponed the horrible felling operations (and bought objectors a little more time)… So maybe the soulless ones at the Council knew of the long-range weather forecast, and so brought forward the felling date, “just to make sure”…

    The Cambridge News continues to be very much ‘pro Dryden-anti tree’, with an article on Thurs Feb 2 titled: “Memorial emerges from the Shadows”. Then two unconvincing ‘before + after’ photos, and an opening sentence: “Views of a Cambridge street have been transformed…”, as though it’s a change for the better. Then something about “Previous Council meetings heard the tree left the shelter in the dark, which meant it was little used and often vandalised”……. What bunkum, to blame the tree for all of that… It also says the Council “Looked at all reasonable ways of retaining the Red Cedar”… utter tosh.

    Apparently wood from the tree is to be used for an ‘art’ project in Mill Road Cemetery – very weird – they might have been better relocating the entire wooden shelter there – though then I suppose there would be no doubt at all that drunks and drug-users etc would frequent it (though I still think it will be once again beset by similar ASB issues in Sidney Street anyway).

  84. Wendy

    P.S. Is it realistic to think that the cedar wood art creation will last long before vandals target it in Mill Road cemetery? That area will not be “monitored” in the way the Council seem to think they can “monitor” use of the restored shelter in Sidney Street (not sure that is realistic, either)… There has been a distinct lack of realism and intelligence throughout this saga :-(

  85. Rosemary Jones

    At least there’s still a cedar tree in Holy Trinity Churchyard Dalston – East London, or adjacent to it, the photo isn’t that clear, the photo showing a clown at the annual service in memory of Joseph Grimaldi. Here, the Council is distancing itself even further from equal opps on culture by taking a part of the dead tree to another graveyard, which in American Indian mythology, means the memories of the departed, the cedar embodies, are being transported in a prematurely dead vehicle to another cemetery, which doesn’t have a living cedar tree as far as I can recall. It is difficult to prove that the American Indian reverence for this species is related to the Asian and European expression, but it is certain that such a tree would inspire reverence from anyone who appreciates the divine in the Creation, and, sadly that doesn’t include local Anglican Church representatives and obviously no one in the dominant party in this Council.

  86. Linden

    Thanks Wendy for mentioning your concern. Although a shock to discover empty spaces where hollies and the red cedar had been, and I wasn’t prepared for it (or said goodbye!), I was quite relieved I hadn’t known and therefore not had to deal with the actual felling.
    Yes, I too had immediately thought how lovely the red cedar particularly would have looked in the snow (and with lights shining on it in the late afternoon). Shall have to try to become desensitised to the scene, as it’s one of my main local ‘areas’ too. The church seemed to have come off well, its architecture thrown into (stark!) relief. I’ve actually always been very fond of the memorial. Horribly poignant to see a little pile of sawdust on its roof. I don’t look forward to going past again, shall have to steel self!, and practise acceptance? Glad to think we’d all done everything we could. Haven’t approached all the changed views yet, so probably have more dismay to come…. Hope the space will gradually soften.

  87. Wendy

    Yes, wise words about “practising acceptance” – I’m sort of getting round to that (and I suppose there’s some nice stained glass more visible now…. hmph). You’re right that we at least know that we did everything we could – somewhat against medical advice in my case, but if I hadn’t kept going with it I would always have wondered……. Looking forward to more greenery there too. I have kept a little sprig of Red Cedar that I found by the phone boxes late last Tuesday…. The memorial restoration work seems to be under way now. I too used to quite like the memorial (first sat there over 20 years ago, as a visitor to Cambridge, before the shelter got ‘ASB’d – and thought the proximity to the tree wonderful) – but now I feel that if there had been a choice, one or the other, I’d sooner they’d kept the tree…….

  88. Linden

    Yes, I too remember about 20 years ago, the overall effect of memorial and tree/foliage close together being so special. If they had been jointly maintained over the intervening years, maybe….

  89. Linden

    Was thinking earlier, is ‘practising acceptance’ something I try to do when I really want to say ‘I give up’! Then went into town centre. It all felt very bleak and sad at the site. Then I felt a resurgence of anger. So the philosophical approach may take a while longer! Will probably go through various states in varying degrees at the moment when go past there (hopefully resulting in acceptance!).

  90. Dave

    I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder! I actually think it is nicer without the tree and the war memorial is so much more visible and noticeable than it ever was. I thought what needed to happen now is to remove some of the railings and open it up more although I expect the threat of antisocial behaviour would prevent this.

  91. Linden

    Agreed, there are various ways of looking at it! Even by the same person on the same day! I always loved the dark, mysterious, softening effect of the lush greenery. Yet am favourably impressed by how the church architecture and the memorial are now ‘showcased’ by more light and openness. At the same time it feels barren I guess because the cedar in particular was an old friend. And sad to see any piece of nature taken away. A very complex small site, hard to accommodate various contrasting desirable outcomes and wishes, even within oneself?! Would like to have seen an attempt at pruning, just to know whether that compromise would have worked. It’s hard to express every thought/feeling on the subject, so I’ll stop!

  92. Wendy

    I got a nasty shock myself yesterday, having made it up to Magdalene Street & the river for the first time in ages…. Two lovely birch (?) trees that were set in the paved area just near the bridge/punt station have been obliterated – now there are just two little round areas of tarmac where they used to be – so not likely that they will ever be replaced…. The curved wooden seat that went around the tree nearest the river remains, and looks a bit odd now without the tree, which used to provide such welcome shade…. Someone who works nearby said that when the tree “surgeon”/obliterator came along (sometime last year I think) they said the trees had to be felled because they had “become diseased because they had been planted too deeply”… very odd (was there any sign of ‘disease’?). The area now looks very stark.

    I am also still very fed up that the Council obliterated the lovely shady conifers by Jesus Green tennis courts, almost exactly a year ago (after a ‘consultation period’ that coincided with a record-breaking cold and icy spell that meant hardly anyone would have ventured past and seen the notices on the trees… The Council as ever trot out the “We followed all the procedures”-line ).

    So yes, not easy AT ALL to come to terms with these destructive events and the loss of “old friends” (I do sometimes feel like leaving Cambridge because of it – but maybe this disregard for trees and nature is happening all over the UK, sometimes with insurance companies and their threats at the core of it………)

  93. Wendy

    A local churchyard (All Saints’, Jesus Lane) has also just recently been DECIMATED – having for so many years been a delightful tangle of characterful trees & shrubs, wild flowers and ‘garden escapes’… The low-growing plants may recover to a degree, in time, but the hacked and sawn-off shrubs (cherry, hydrangea etc) look terrible and will NEVER be the same again. Someone (to do with the church) with a ridiculous ‘tidiness obsession’ is responsible for this, and also the same old thing about “warding off anti-social behaviour”…. CRAZY.

    I really do feel badly the loss of so many of my favourite trees… There IS another Red Cedar though (a younger one and less characterful, no ‘divided trunk’ or anything) opposite the junction of Park Street and Round Church Street – dare I become “friends” with it ??

  94. Wendy

    A final word…..?! 1) Re. the various different visual views – depending on one’s approach to the area – the void and the lack of evergreenery looked and felt pretty bad yesterday from the nearest seat (the wonky one that’s been hit by a lorry?) – such that I had to turn my back… I then went to look at the site, and was knocked back by an overwhelming stench of urine, plus a hint of disinfectant…. I do wonder if they will ever manage to get rid of this woeful pong?? (It will have built up over many years, and the ‘treatment’ so far seems to make it worse…).

    2) I agree with Linden about all the “various ways of looking at it” (actual and philosophical) and for me I know I will always deeply feel the loss of the amazing Red Cedar tree.

  95. wab

    More trees being cut down today, this time the Alders on the Backs behind King’s College (it sounds like one or two might be spared). Apparently this was always planned back when the trees were planted (in the 1980s?) and apparently they are leaving the oak trees. And they are going to add some smaller trees back in, which are “native”. This all according to the chap who was doing the work.

  96. Wendy

    I’ve sat in the revamped shelter a few times since it was re-opened, and it’s OK – though you do get some funny looks from passers by as you sit there kind of self-consciously, in something that does look like and feel rather like a large bird cage (no lovely tree branches to ‘hide behind’, or to ‘soften’ the now rather stark impact of the memorial..) Sitting with one’s back to where the cedar was – all traces of which have now shamelessly been totally and utterly obliterated :-( is OK – a decent amount of soothing greenery in view – BUT… facing the stark gap and the ‘ghost of the tree’ feels most unpleasant.. Sometimes the shelter is all locked up by 6pm – with an ugly chunky padlock and chain – and looks like something of a ‘white elephant’… However yesterday for the first time there was what appeared (I don’t think the new roof leaks) to be a pool of urine in there along with some discarded fag ends….

  97. Linden

    I stood inside the Memorial for the first time the other day but didn’t stay. It did look as if great care and respect had gone into restoring it? Is it a much lighter colour than it used to be? I used to like the dark wood – not sure if it’s just been cleaned up, or completely rebuilt? Was quite glad/relieved to find a couple of schoolchildren sitting there quietly!
    I tried previously to adjust and be rational and focus on the newly opened-up space and the showcasing of the architecture. But, having let some time pass, I do really wish we’d been able to save the tree. And agree with Wendy that the place does feel stark now. Perhaps the new planting will gradually make some difference.
    It was strange/sad to see the little bit of turf that has replaced the tree – especially as the turf was covered in crisp packets and other litter when I was there. That felt like insult added to injury! Oh well, may try sitting inside the Memorial, may even get to like it, especially if there’s other greenery around (trying to be rational again!). Though (irrationally?) the other day it was the lack of cedar branches that put me off sitting down!

  98. Wendy

    Just overgrown grass, weeds, nettles, a thistle even, and lots of litter in the corner where our lovely tree used to be….

  99. Linden

    Now the clocks have gone back… It used to be such a treat on cold, dark afternoons to see rain and street light falling on evergreen branches in the City Centre. This afternoon the space did look bleak.

  100. Wendy

    The shelter continues to be often locked up quite early, when it is still light – and looks a bit ridiculous when it is locked and inaccessible, IMHO (with the notice there inviting people in to “rest a while”…). There were three cider-swilling down-and-outs in the shelter at about 4 pm today…. And looking at the scene from across the road / outside Next, it did indeed all feel pretty desolate – the bare wall of the Boots etc block to the left looking most unaesthetic. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Council planted a new, baby Red Cedar in that corner, and looked after it this time (though I suppose the roots of the original would be still there and in the way?). Really missed our old friend this winter.

  101. Linden

    Really missed the old tree today, as I so often do, in every season (over a year now?). Tried to like the new space but can’t!

  102. Wendy

    Went in there the other day – tentatively, as you never know who might follow, clutching a can of Special Brew…. and boy, it s-t-a-n-k…. I soon exited… They should call it “The Holy Trinity War Urinal”…. The whole thing, and its often litter-strewn setting, is already getting to look pretty shabby.

    The red cedar tree was wonderful – and an unusual, characterful city centre feature that should have been preserved… The memorial ‘shelter’ could and should have been moved further back, or else relocated, or replaced with some other feature, with open seating next to the lovely tree..

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