Trees to honour 19th century poet
12:38 17 March 2014
A TRIO of trees has been planted at a beauty spot near Sidmouth which inspired a 19th century poet and hymn writer to compose some of his best work.
A crowd of around 40 people watched the ceremony at Keble’s Seat on Mutters Moor last Friday, March 7.
The spot is named after John Keble and commands a breathtaking panoramic view of the Lower Otter Valley and Dartmoor.
Keble was an English churchman and one of the leaders of the influential Oxford Movement - Oxford’s Keble College was named after him.
He was also a frequent visitor to Sidmouth and folklore suggests that Keble’s favourite spot was Mutter’s Moor where a wooden bench known as Keble’s Seat remains to this day.
For nearly 50 years Keble’s view was concealed by a mature forest of Japanese larch which was felled by Clinton Devon Estates in 2012 to prevent the spread of the deadly tree disease Phytophthora ramorum.
Three copper beech saplings were planted at the site last Friday, March 7, by Sir Jonathan Phillips, the Warden of Keble College, Lord Clinton and Diana East of Sidmouth Arboretum - which proposed the commemorative planting.
The specimens were chosen to echo the ancient copper beech tree which is alive and well in Pusey Quad at Keble College.
Edward Willis Fleming, one of the founders of Sidmouth Arboretum, said: “We look for every opportunity to plant trees in the area and encourage others to do so. The local word is that John Keble was inspired by this landscape.”
The Reverend Handel Bennett blessed each tree individually and said of Keble: “For him there is a sermon in every leaf, in every nook.”
Sir Jonathan described the event as ‘typically English’.
John Wilding, head of forestry and environment for Clinton Devon Estates, said: “Anyone who wants to sit on Keble’s Seat will once again enjoy the fabulous views.
“The planting of the saplings will help to make this beautiful spot just a little bit more special.”