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Marking the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo
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On 18 June 2015, 200 years to the day after the Duke of Wellington defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo,  some of his direct descendants gathered with members of the Royal Forestry Society (RFS)  in a magnificent avenue of Wellingtonia (Giant Redwood or Sequoiadendron giganteum) in Hockeridge Woods.

 Battleofwaterloo Wellesleyfamilyhockeridge 1801615 Wn Lr D71 0942 Web

Marking 200the anniversary  of Battle of

Waterloo:Wellesley Family members with

Sophie Churchill and Andrew Woods

The Wellingtonia (Giant Redwood) was named after the 'Iron Duke' whose historic victory is credited with bringing peace to Europe after 20 years of conflict.

The Avenue was planted by his  great-great-grandaughter,  Mary Wellesley, soon after she purchased the woods in the 1950s as a lasting tribute to him.   On 18 June 2015 one more Wellingtonia tree was planted by the Wellesley family, to mark the bicentenary of the battle.

The woods are now owned and managed by the RFS after they were generously gifted to the society by Mary Wellesley in 1986. Vice President Dr Sophie Churchill OBE says: "It is fitting that we mark this momentous victory with an addition to this truly magnificent avenue. In their native habitat on the Sierra Navada slopes of California they can grow to 80m and live for over 3000 years  - they are a lasting memorial for an inspiring leader who helped shape our history."

She also pays tribute to Miss Wellesley for her foresight in implementing good woodland management when she set about rescuing Hockeridge and Pancake wood from neglect in the 1950s. She replanted with many forestry trees including conifers, and non native species which are still seen today alongside other woodland  flora and fauna

Diggingin Wellingtonhockeridge Antonygrantsophiechurchill 1806 Wn Lr D71 0937

The Rev Antony Grant, great great 

great grandson of the Duke of

Wellington plants the Wellingtonia

with Sophie Churchill

The Wellesley family are proud of their connection to the wood, and say: "The Wellingtonia avenue was planted in the 1950s by Miss Mary Wellesley, who is now aged 100, to commemorate her great-great-grandfather 1st Duke of Wellington’s victory at Waterloo."

To link that event with her gift of these woods  to the Royal Forestry Society, the family has generously donated the new tree, commemorative plaque and new visitor information boards for the wood.

 Mary’s own involvement with forestry went back to her grandfather, 4th Duke of Wellington, himself grandson of 1st Duke, who would take his little granddaughters with him round his woods as he trimmed the trees.

Hockeridge and Pancake Woods were home to a thriving timber industry throughout the 19th and early 20th century. Timber from the woods was even taken for decorations to mark King George VI’s coronation in 1936. 

Hockeridge and Pancake Woods are open for the public to visit at any time . The RFS manages the wood to balance the interests of woodfuel and timber production, biodiversity and public enjoyment and education. The Society's aim is to inspire passion and excellence in woodland management and to educate, research and build expert knowledge in forestry and arboriculture.

More details about the wood and how to find it are here