24 May 2020
Virtual exhibition: A Legacy of Ancient Oaks
Take a virtual gallery tour and admire artist Mark Frith’s stunningly detailed oak drawings.
We’re bringing our incredible Mark Frith: A Legacy of Ancient Oaks exhibition to you, to enjoy from home.
Take a virtual tour of 10 of the breath-taking, large-scale graphite drawings that were on display.
Here's your chance to view the artworks if you missed the exhibition first time round, when it was on display in our Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art from October 2018 to March 2019.
The drawings convey the stark architectural beauty of Britain’s most iconic ancient oaks, many of which are more than 1,000 years old.
The artist, Mark Frith, captures the individual character and majesty of each tree in winter, with the tree trunks, bark and branches shown in all their intricacy.
Not only beautiful, these botanical drawings also help document the nature of these long-lived oaks.
The series took the artist three and a half years to complete, with each drawing measuring a huge 1.7 metres wide.
Start your tour...
The Great Oak
This huge sessile oak (Quercus petraea), a species native to Britain, is found in Nibley Green in Gloucestershire. The ancient tree was the artist's initial inspiration for the project.
One of England's oldest oak trees, the Bowthorpe Oak has a giant 12-metre girth. Sitting in a field in Manthorpe, it's believed dinner parties were once held within its cavernous hollowed trunk.
The Pontfadog Oak was the oldest tree in Wales, thought to exceed 1,200 years in age. Sadly, in 2013, the iconic tree was toppled by a storm.
Perhaps the largest oak in Britain, measuring over 14 metres in girth, the Marton Oak has a unique hollow trunk that was once used as a farm animal enclosure.
The Old Man of Calke
Situated in Calke Abbey in Derbyshire, this old beauty is still producing acorns. It's thought to date back to when the first Vikings came to Britain.
The 1,000-year-old Darley Oak, located on the edge of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, is steeped in local legends and tales of superstition.
Majesty Oak (Fredville Oak)
The Majesty Oak, also known as the Fredville Oak thanks to its location in Fredville Park, Nonington, is a grand and imposing English oak (Quercus robur).
Windsor Great Park
Named after King Offa, this 1,300-year-old English oak is thought to have been alive in the time of the Anglo-Saxon ruler.
Queen Elizabeth Oak
This large sessile oak has a very distinct appearance with its hollow trunk and low crown. It is said Elizabeth I once hunted stag positioned beneath the great tree.
This old survivor, located in the Scottish Borders, is held together by support beams. The helping hand is needed due to a huge split through the middle of its trunk.
Publisher, poet, and philanthropist, Felix Dennis, originally commissioned the exhibition’s 20-drawing series by Mark Frith.
The 10 drawings shown here were gifted to Kew and are now part of our Illustrations Collection within our Library, Art and Archives.
Kew's mighty oaks
Within our Arboretum's collection of 14,000 trees, we have over 2,700 specimens of 112 species of oaks.
Many are ancient and extraordinary.
Dating back to the 18th century, our Lucombe oak (Quercus x hispanica 'Lucombeana') is one of the oldest trees in the Gardens.
While our magnificent chestnut-leaved oak (Quercus castaneifolia) is our biggest and fastest-growing tree.
From our 300-year-old giant English oak (Quercus robur) to the tough cork oak (Quercus suber), every tree is a source of knowledge and vital to our botanical and conservation research.