The Great Grandfather Oak of Spinningwheel Copse holds the secrets of the old ways of the village, and of its mysterious isle-like form.
From its place at the crown of the copse, the Oak observes a slow flux at play in Binsted Park. Deer leap, stop to listen, leap, and pause again. Bats arc and switch in the twilight as late-summer mists roll across grass. In the Spring, walkers come to see bluebells, primroses and purple orchids.
You would be forgiven for feeling it was always this way. But the Oak’s trunk-like lower branches tell a story. Head-height, they are evidence of pollarding – long ago, the tree was cut to provide regrowth out of reach of grazing animals. Before it was turned to parkland, then, this was common land.
Saxon common fields are the reason for Binsted’s uncommon shape. In medieval times, strips of land were ploughed by teams of Oxen. The houses along Binsted Lane still follow their Saxon layout, a half-circle around these fields. In turn, each end of the Lane meets the half-circle of Binsted Woods. It is this which gives Binsted its magical feeling of enclosure.
At the heart of this circle is the Spinningwheel Oak. Beside it, a large pit shows the place where chalk was once dug out – a practice to make the land fertile.
This land is rich with story, too. Here, at the village’s heart, the largest, oldest of the Oaks will tell you a tale that reaches back millennia.
Tales from the realm of the Spinningwheel Oak: