Tuesday 12 September 2023

Pagan Eye: The Lewisham Dutch Elm in Ladywell Fields

This is a rare sight - an elm tree in London. Most of England's elms were killed by Dutch elm disease from the late 1960s. One used to grow in the back garden of the house I lived in when I was very young and I remember how sad everyone in my family was when the tree had to be cut down. However, the one in this photograph survived. It's the Lewisham Dutch Elm in Ladywell Fields and stands on the bank of the River Ravensbourne, which I followed as part of the Waterlink Way. I blogged about that last week.

In mythology, elm trees are often associated with death. In the Iliad, elms are described as being planted on the tomb of a fallen hero.  In the Aeneid, the Stygian Elm is one of the things Aeneas sees when he visits the underworld. An elm was also said to mark the spot where Eurydice vanished when the Greek hero Orpheus failed in his quest to rescue her from the realm of the dead. Historically, elm wood was often used to make coffins because it is durable.

Despite the tree's gloomy associations, I love elms and was very happy to see  and photograph the Lewisham Dutch Elm on my walk. It is one of the Great Trees of London, a list that was produced by Trees for Cities after the 1987 storms.

On each Pagan Eye post, I show a photo that I find interesting, with a few words about it. I'm not quite sure what I'll be including - it could be a seasonal image, a pagan site, an event, or just a pretty picture. If you want to send me a photo for a Pagan Eye post, please email it to badwitch1234@gmail.com. Let me know what the photo shows and whether you want your name mentioned or not. For copyright reasons, the photo must be one you have taken yourself and you must confirm that you are submitting it for A Bad Witch's Blog.

Other previous related posts

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