A little bit of Cookham Dean tree news, a little bit of history and a little bit of an idea...

It’s about a month since the 100 year old Lime tree at the junction of Alleyns Lane and Dean Lane was felled because of damage to it’s tree roots.  You’ll remember that the drainage contractors dug a trench across the small green and through the Lime’s fine network of roots, and then they cut straight through the electric mains.  South East Electricity had to come in to repair, and they caused more damage to the root system as they were trying to reconnect us to the network – hence we lost the tree.  The drainage contractors were required to apply for permission from the RBWM (as the landowners), to dig the trench and, in doing so, they should have been given a Root Protection Area (RPA) to map out a safe dig.  There are questions regarding what was requested, issued and followed in this process, and the RBWM planning enforcement team started an investigation.  We have a single point of contact in the RBWM and I have asked three times now for an update of their investigation - with no further information yet.

However, better news is that the missing memorial plaque has been located – rescued by one of the neighbours opposite, so we will be able to replace this when the time comes.  The owner of Reddaways has also been consulted on what to replace the Lime tree with, and after help from the Cookham Wildlife Supporters, has settled on another deciduous tree called a Wild Service tree.   It is a native tree but rare now, and has both flowers and fruit.  So it will provide interest all year round and be an excellent habitat for nature.  The fruits are called “Chequers” and are only edible after a process called “bletting” (freezing to you or I) but they can also be made into an alcoholic drink.  These fruit are thought to have given rise to the (general) pub name of “The Chequers” and it makes you wonder if there were more Service trees in this area at some time, thus giving us our own “Chequers” pub, further down Dean Lane.

I also want to share with you the kindest offer that we all have received.  I had an email from a lady whose husband is an expert wood carver.  He has offered to carve something "for the village" from a piece of the felled tree.  I approached the RBWM immediately, but was so disappointed to hear that the wood had all been disposed of, and they suggested that it was not ideal for carving.  This however, is the response from someone who really knows:

Thank you again for your reply and it is very sad that the wood has gone as it would have been a lovely use of the tree as a memory for the village. It was just an idea that my husband had and was willing to do for the village he in no way wanted to make another issue of a very tragic situation. 
Just so that you know I have photographed a page from one of my husband's books on wood. Lime has been used for centuries by the revered carvers in history. It has lasted hundreds of years in many prominent buildings such as St Pauls Cathedral and Hampton Court. We really do not want to make an issue about this but my husband knows his woods which was why he suggested it the minute I told him about the tree. There is an element of it rotting slightly quicker than some other woods but there are pieces of lime sculpture in this country that are in beautiful condition that are over 700 years old. The tree has gone and so it is no longer possible but we did not want you to be told that it would not have been a good to use for a sculpture.
If you do want to something to mark the tree in any way please let us know. 

It is such a lovely thought and I was really upset that we could not pursue it – unless any of you have any ideas as to how we may progress?  I don’t suppose that anyone, anywhere picked up a lump of tree trunk? 

One of the most interesting things to come out of this sad tale has been the history I have come across as a result.  The chance mention of the Lime tree replacing a pond, led to you lovely people sharing a photo from a local photographic archive book.  I have since got that book myself (and one other) and have been able to research a bit further.  The Lime tree was actually one of three planted to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII by three local families – the Edwards (Mr.H), the Lewingtons (Mr. W) and the Jordans (Henry William).  They planted our tree opposite Dean Farm, and you will recognize the others when I explain their locations -  the second is the big tree opposite The Jolly on what is known as Stirlings Green, and the third  is the one opposite what is now Sawfords and back then, was the old school.  

Henry Jordan was born in 1856 and ran away from Cookham to London in the 1870s to make his fortune.  Or rather, he learnt a trade and then came back to the village to start a building business (he built Dane’s Manor off the Maidenhead Road). Through this business, he earnt enough money to buy Dean Farm.  He and his family, were an enterprising lot and as well as the farm’s fruit orchards, they earnt a living from delivering milk and coal and ran a taxi cab service, collecting people from the station and bringing them to The Dean at the cost of half a crown.  The pond that we recently learnt about, was used to wash down the cabs.  But it seems even in the 1900s there were health and safety spoil sports and someone deemed the pond a public health hazard, which is why they filled it in.  So this is the actual man that helped plant our tree.  I love this photo of him, I think he has a kind face and I can see a twinkle in his eye, I imagine him to be a cheeky character!  Meeting him makes me more determined that we should do right by his original wishes with this new tree.

Anyway – all the fabulous old pictures in the book got me to thinking.  There are lots and lots of houses we will all recognize in that book.  Is yours one of them?  Would you be prepared to let us photograph you to do a “Then and Now”?  To see how things have changed, and share a little bit of the history of your property or its immediate area?  I suspect Amazon is VERY clever.  I paid 96 pence for my book the week before last.  It is now £94.89!!!!!! So if you don't have it, but you would like to participate if your house features, contact me and I can thumb through for you.   Don’t assume the book shows only the gentry’s houses, there are lots of cottages in all three villages, the pubs, shops and other work places.  Quite fascinating.  So please do get in touch if this idea appeals to you!    
Henry William Jordan and his wife Annie (note the dog too)!

Henry William Jordan - our tree man!


  1. How interesting, thanks for your 'digging' around to find out this bit of local history. It's a tragedy about the tree, all the more so hearing it's history, but so good to read your article. Thanks.

  2. How sad that the kind offer of a carving couldn't be used, but thank you for the information on the Cookham Families and about the Chequers....very interesting!

  3. The other tree that was planted was the one outside uncle Toms which has also been chopped down. The tree root is still there and hopefully it will return. It too still has the tree trunk lying next too it. Maybe the wood carver could do something for Uncle Toms.

    1. Yes - I had the same thought actually, HOWEVER in news hot off the hottest hot press, I am very hopeful that I have located the Lime at the tree surgeons yard. I will keep you all posted.

  4. The Parish Council has learned today that RBWM has decided that it is 'Not appropriate to take action' in its enforcement case about the Lime Tree (ref 17/50182). That makes no sense to me, and the Parish Council is seeking an explanation. More soon....

  5. Hi, I am a direct descendant of Henry and Annie - my father was Peter Henry Jordan 1920-2000, and it was really interesting to read your article. My father moved to New Zealand shortly after WWII, and remained here until his death. You talk about the twinkle in Henry's eye - my father, and his namesake Jordan Peter had/have this as well as his other grandchildren. Thank you again vir this insight to my family history.

    1. That's lovely to hear - thank you! And I am so pleased too that the twinkle has carried on down the generations!


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