Newbury's Old Elm

: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

Among the venerable relics of Newbury few are better known and more

prized than the old elm. It is a stout tree, with a girth of twenty-four

and a half feet, and is said to have been standing since 1713. In that

year it was planted by Richard Jacques, then a youthful rustic, who had a

sweetheart, as all rustics have, and adored her as rustics and other men

should do. On one of his visits he stayed uncommonly late. It was nearly
ten o'clock when he set off for home. The town had been abed an hour or

more; the night was murky and oppressively still, and corpse-candles were

dancing in the graveyard. Witch times had not been so far agone that he

felt comfortable, and, lest some sprite, bogie, troll, or goblin should

waylay him, he tore an elm branch from a tree that grew before his

sweetheart's house, and flourished it as he walked. He reached home

without experiencing any of the troubles that a superstitious fancy had

conjured. As he was about to cast the branch away a comforting vision of

his loved one came into his mind, and he determined to plant the branch

at his own door, that in the hours of their separation he might be

reminded of her who dwelt beneath the parent tree. He did so. It rooted

and grew, and when the youth and maid had long been married, their

children and grandchildren sported beneath its branches.