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Brighton Elm Trees
The celebrated Dr Samuel Johnson (1709-1775), while a lover of fine forest trees, apparently detested the treeless
Brighthelmstone Downs (Brighton) and was prompted to state
“The place is truly desolate and if one had a mind to hang oneself for
desperation at being obliged to live there, it would be difficult
to find a tree on which to fasten a rope” .
Shoe Tree The Level Brighton
Sadly this Elm tree has contracted Elm Disease and has had to be felled. It was well known as the Shoe tree where locals would throw old shoes.
The Elms were originally planed in the mid nineteenth century by local dignitaries. The original planting was very close together as all the towns influential people wanted to get recognised as planting a tree. 374 Elm trees were planted but as would normal practice trees would thinned as they grew larger. However there was a reluctance on which dignitaries tree was to be removed so this never happened. Consequently the trees produced poor roots systems with few major anchoring roots, this had a major effect later when so many of these trees succumbed to windthrow during the 1987 storm.
Photos by Damian Paul Carrington