A tree planted more than a hundred years ago to celebrate a royal jubilee has been turned into a sculpture to mark 70 years of another monarch’s reign.

An oak sapling was planted in Wellington Heath, near Ledbury, in honour of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

Over the years the tree became a well-loved symbol of the village, but its position at the centre of a road junction did nothing for its health and it recently died.

With the nation gearing up to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, villagers felt it was the perfect time to turn the tree into something new.

Ledbury Reporter: The Wellington Heath tree when it was in full healthThe Wellington Heath tree when it was in full health

The tree has been sculpted into a celebration of local wildlife, while commemorating the jubilees of both 1897 and 2022.

Celebrated wood carver and sculptor Simon O’Rourke completed the carving last week.

Ledbury Reporter: The sculpture celebrates two jubilees more than 100 years apartThe sculpture celebrates two jubilees more than 100 years apart

The design includes niches to encourage bird life to nest in the sculpture as well as allowing bats to inhabit the tree.

Much to the delight of villagers, there is also a hidden cheeky monkey incorporated into the carving as a nod to the historic nickname of Monkey Island as well as the group of Monkey Islanders who organised community events and raised funds for charity in the late 80s and early 90s.

'A living tree'

Spare wood from the tree will be used for parish projects, allowing many villagers to get involved. House signs using offcuts are already appearing, and garden sculpture, wood turning, and a seat for Wellington Heath Memorial Hall are planned.

Thousands of trees have been planted around the UK for the Platinum Jubilee as part of a scheme called The Queen’s Green Canopy.

READ MORE: Book written and illustrated at Wellington Heath is published in New York

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But villager Peter Constantine said Wellington Heath’s tree may be unique in celebrating both this and the Diamond Jubilee of 1897.

Ledbury Reporter: Branches are lopped off the tree to get it ready for carvingBranches are lopped off the tree to get it ready for carving

“The people who planted the tree had probably never seen a motor car,” he said. “They would never have imagined the damage that would be caused to it by roads.

“It had been dying for two or three years and we felt we wanted to do something, not just let it die because it’s a special tree.

“It’s great that it’s got spaces for birds and bats to nest because we want it to be a living tree, not just a celebration.”