Langley Park owes its beginnings in the early 17th Century to Sir John Kederminster whose house was replaced by Charles Spencer (later 3rd Duke of Marlborough) c.1755-8 who moved here after a row with his grandmother Sarah (1st Duchess). The Park was landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown 1763-4. Letters to his wife from campaign demonstrate the Duke’s great interest in the Park and its trees. Later, Langley Park was occupied by five generations of the Harvey family.
18 members and guests joined Michael Hunt at a busy Langley Park on a warm sunny morning on 22 May for his second Tree Walk as part of the Trust’s 25th Anniversary Events. Michael explained that he is a passionate self-taught man regarding trees and the natural world, who would travel for hours to see a particular specimen and revisit the same location in all seasons and sometimes every month to experience the changes wrought by the passage of time.
We first dived in a sort of a conga into the Temple Gardens with their wealth of Rhododendrons in full bloom, following Michael who picked his way unerringly through this astonishing maze of colour, picking out the particular tree specimens emerging from the technicolour understorey that had caught his eye. We marvelled at his ability to bring out their Latin names and their more ‘common’ names without a trace of hesitation.
After a short diversion to the probable site of the Temple with its distant prospect of Windsor Castle, we skirted the children’s play area with its fine cedars and walked down the side of the prospect view into the Arboretum (first developed as a Pinetum in the 1860’s by the Harvey family) where we were introduced by Michael to a diverse range of interesting trees. Whilst we enjoyed spring colouring, we were strongly recommended to return later in the year for spectacular autumn colour. One of the most memorable items was the American Black Oak (Quercus Velutina) a ‘County Champion’ (ie the finest example of this in Bucks). Langley has seven other County Champions which we were shown.
With thanks to Michael for his expert guidance, we made our way back to the small café which was coping bravely with the crowds enjoying the park in the warm May sunshine.
Roving Reports for the Buckinghamshire Gardens Trust Anniversary Events:
Elaine & Geoff Huntingford