A Norway Maple at Prior Park has been declared the national champion tree for its species after being measured at 36 metres (117 feet) – the tallest in the country by a clear six metres.
The previous champion Norway Maple is 30 metres tall and growing at Glamis Castle in Angus.
Norway Maples are quite common in Britain so it is more remarkable to find a champion tree for the species being looked after by the National Trust at Prior Park.
Matthew Ward, National Trust head gardener for Bath said: “For years I’ve looked at this tree and thought it was unusually big but when we finally measured it ourselves we realised it was one of the tallest in the country.”
It is in a sheltered part of Prior Park, growing amongst other trees on a bank.
The measuring was done by a team from the Tree Register who climbed the tree to be able to use a combination of poles and tape measures to measure the exact height of the tree.
The garden has a number of Norway Maples and also beech, ash and yew, which grow very well.
“It hasn’t been planted up as a specialist arboretum and because, in the past it had been left alone, there are a lot of self seeded trees creating quite a natural feel to the woodland. We are in a hollow, close to the city and it is a sheltered pleasant spot which the trees certainly seem to like. As well as this superb Norway Maple we have a number of yew trees which grow particularly well.”
The Trust is maintaining Prior Park in the spirit of Ralph Allen, the 18th Century entrepreneur who created it as his vision of blending a garden with the natural landscape.
In addition to the work at Prior Park, the Trust is carrying our a three year survey to reveal the full extent and condition of the estimated 500 tree avenues in its care. The project began last year to help prioritise funding for their care and bring together the fascinating stories associated with them.
Volunteers are still needed to help assess these tree avenues and take part in the project to survey all the ancient trees on National Trust land, which has so far surveyed more than 23,000 trees. Members of the public interested in volunteering should contact their local property.