Sunday, 20 March 2016

A little bit of magic in Loughborough!

These last 7 days or so have been very busy, and most interesting for me!

On Tuesday I went to a talk in Leicester about Luddite activity in Nottingham, at which, of course, Loughborough was mentioned. On Friday I went to a session in the public library focussed on people's memories of working in local firms, or firms that were based in Loughborough. Yesterday saw me venture further afield into the world of the back streets of an alternative Leicester. But the strangest thing of all happened on Monday, when I got a phone call:

Caller: "Lynne, do you know about the magic tree in Loughborough. You must go and see it now, because it'll be too late in a couple of day's time!"

Me: "Ummm, no. A magic tree, you say? How is this magic? Where can I find it?"

Caller: "Well, it's been widely reported in the Echo. How come you don't know about this horse chestnut tree?"

Me: "I don't know. I must have missed it. I've been an avid reader of the Echo for over 30 years, so perhaps I've read about it, but forgotten!"

Caller: "Well, there's a legend associated with it, something to do with a mother and a young child, but maybe the explanation is more plausibly because there might be water pipes, or a warm water spring under it."

Me: "So how is it magic then?"

Caller: "Go and have a look, and you'll see what I mean!"

So, at my earliest opportunity, and before the end of the week, I went off in search of a horse chestnut tree. Now, like a lot of people I can recognise a horse chestnut tree in September time, when the floor beneath is littered with green spiky pods containing shiny brown conkers, but I wasn't too sure I'd be able to recognise one towards the end of Winter, when all deciduous trees look a bit alike - bare branches. So, I armed myself with my pocket book of trees (actually, I admit, I used my phone and did an image search on the internet) and went off on a horse chestnut tree hunt!

The directions I'd been given were accurate enough to lead me to a tree which when I checked against the images on my phone, did turn out to be a horse chestnut tree! And what was special about it, was that it was already bursting with leaves, well before any of the other trees in the area! 

Going through my books on local legends and folklore I hunted for something about a horse chestnut tree, a woman and a young child, but I didn't find anything. 

During the course of my search, I read legends, stories and ghost tales, about Lady Jane Grey, Richard III and Richard Smith; concerning Leicester, Loughborough and Husbands Bosworth; about beds, follies and wells, but nothing about early leafing horse chestnut trees!   

Since viewing the tree, I have been told that there are several areas in Loughborough where trees seem to leaf early. These days, with snowdrops, daffs and crocuses all flowering at the same time, it seems times they are a-changing in the natural world, and we should no longer be surprised by what Mother Nature shows us. 
Crocus, snowdrops and daffs, 20 March 2016
As my caller said, the Echo have covered this story extensively over the years, but I haven't had time to go to the public library and check old copies of the Echo, and the ones on the web are subscription only, so that's not an option either. So, if you've heard the story associated with the early leafing horse chestnut tree on the A512, do let me know!


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