Seven Kings get the chop

The Seven Kings at Totternhoe Knolls
The Seven Kings at Totternhoe Knolls

A Totternhoe resident was left “mortified” after he saw that The Seven Kings were no longer standing tall when he visited the Knolls on Sunday.

The trees were reduced to stumps by the National Trust following advice from a tree surgeon.

The Seven Kings at Totternhoe Knolls

The Seven Kings at Totternhoe Knolls

A tree health survey is carried out every year and during the last check it was discovered that two of the five trees that still remained were badly diseased and dying.

The resident, who has lived in the village for 34 years, claims the trees have stood there for 150 years.

He said: “I was mortified to find that The Seven Kings have become one. My whole childhood was spent playing there.

“The myth was that under each of the seven trees a king was buried and this was the story that was passed down to my two sons.

“The landscape, the view and most of all the story of The Seven Kings has been lost and can never be replaced and I find it upsetting that of all people, it is the National Trust that has done this.”

Ade Clarke, general manager for National Trust places in Bedfordshire, said: “The remaining trees have all been reduced in size in order to make them safer and ensure they will stand firm in the event of high winds. Ensuring the safety of visitors around trees is of paramount importance to us.

“Allowing the trees to better withstand wind damage is also part of our work to care for the Scheduled Monument, the castle, as damage to the protected archaeology of this site would be irreparable if the large root plates of these trees were unearthed.

“We also carried out some extensive clearance of the scrub that had grown around the area, firstly to increase the area of chalk grassland and also to enable visitors to see the true size of the bank, which is of significance both for the chalk grassland and for the castle earthworks.”