When medieval Church authorities needed timber for the Cathedral, they sent men out into the local greenwood to cut down a few trees. Today things are a little more complicated, but thanks to the generosity of the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, Lincoln Cathedral will soon be using timbers from a local Wildlife Trust nature reserve, Dole Wood, near Bourne.
What our medieval forefathers did as a matter of course, is now done as good environmental management. Rachel Shaw, of the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust said: "Dole Wood has been traditionally managed in the past; it is one of our most spectacular bluebell woodlands and is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Since the wood became a Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve in 1975, it has been managed gently with some coppicing and removal of brambles but with no major felling of large trees. An inspection by Natural England and the Forestry Commission, found that the canopy was beginning to close, restricting the light reaching the woodland floor. The decision was made to take out just 16 oak trees to create gaps in the canopy and to help nearby trees reach old age.
"Removing a 200 year old oak tree is removing a youngster, one which is perhaps not yet old enough to support a full range of other species. Critically it may allow an adjacent tree the space to grow and develop for many hundreds of years. There is a saying about oak trees that says they take 300 years to grow, 300 years to live and 300 years to gracefully die. Hopefully in 500 years time, Dole Wood will have some trees that are just beginning the slow end of their lives.
"The history of our woodlands is one of people making the best use of resources provided and wildlife being the unintended beneficiary. All felled timber or coppiced wood was put to use. The felling of 16 oak trees in Dole Wood took place over one day in February. A highly skilled team was used to ensure speed of the work and minimal damage. It has resulted in some fine timber. Continuing the tradition of making good use of nature’s gifts, some of this timber will be used by Lincolnshire’s finest building: Lincoln Cathedral.
"Of most use to the cathedral would be long lengths of timber that could be used as roof beams but to remove these from the woodland would require very heavy machinery causing considerable damage. Instead at Dole Wood, the trees were cut into 6-8 foot lengths that could be easily removed by a smaller, lighter vehicle. Twenty of these lengths will be used in the cathedral. The remaining twenty lengths will be used at Willow Tree Fen nature reserve for seating and waymarking."
The donation has also been made possible with the kind collaboration of B Knights, Timber Merchants, of Langworth, and Denby Transport.
Allan Toyne, Deputy Team Leader of the Timber and Lead team at the Cathedral said: "Knights will convert the lengths into quarters which will give us roughly six inch square oak section. These sections are not long enough to be used as roof beams, but will be perfect for replacement sills and other bespoke joinery work on the Cathedral. The timber will gradually be incorporated into the Cathedral over the next few years in the course of our ongoing conservation and restoration work."
Works Manager Carol Heidschuster said: "We are very grateful for this generous donation."
Peter Denby of Denby Transport said: "Denby Transport are pleased to have been involved in the project to secure Lincolnshire oak for the Cathedral’s future use. Our lorry mounted crane was especially useful in handling the timber."
> Find out more about Dole Wood nature reserve.
> Visit the best of our bluebell woodlands on a special open day.