A living link to Methodist preacher John Wesley has been planted outside his London home – in the shape of an English elm sapling grown from a cutting of a tree he used to preach under in Stony Stratford.
The original 400-year-old elm, in Stony Stratford Market Place, was hit by Dutch Elm Disease in the 1970s. However, the ancient hollow trunk continued to throw up vigorous shoots – before being damaged by two fires and finally succumbing to the disease.
A decision was taken to finally cut the tree down in 2007 and replace it with an oak tree, but elm enthusiast, Mark Seddon, took a cutting before the chainsaws arrived and grew it on to the four foot sapling planted in London.
John Wesley preached at Stony Stratford on at least five occasions. He is recorded as saying he would like to be buried under an elm tree, and now his London grave is just a few yards from one of the few living links with him – the English elm sapling.
Mr Seddon is delighted the tree has been given such a prestigious home. It had been destined for New York’s Central Park, but believes John Wesley’s House is the right place for it.
He said: “The tree is a living link with Wesley and, in its new position in central London, should be relatively safe from the dreaded Dutch Elm Disease.
“I hope future generations will stand under it and venerate the great man who once preached under its illustrious parent in Stony Stratford.”