This is a precis of a story from the Church Times.

Ahead of the millennium the Church of England decided it would mark the special date by distributing yew trees across England. Every parish that requested one would get one and as 1999 drew to a close, 7000 seedlings had been given away. The Conservation Foundation was the Church's partner in the project. 

David Shreeve, director of the Conservation Foundation said that collecting the cuttings was a somewhat "last minute" operation and the first task was to get permission from the incumbents of churches in possession of ancient yew trees. Eventually, six inch cuttings were taken from about 60, some of which were estimated to be 2000 years old.  These were then packed up and sent to a nursery where they were put into a greenhouse and then "we had two pray that they would all grow" said David. 

Yews are the oldest living things in Britain and the Woodland Trust reports that they are only considered 'ancient' after 900 years. The oldest tree in the UK, the Fortingall Yew is estimated to be between 2000 and 3000 years old.

Mr Shreeve says that one of the aims of the Millennium project was to draw attention to this timeline: “They were planted in the spirit of a living link with the birth of Jesus, and as a symbol that, if we wanted this millennium yew to live for another 2000 years, we would need to care and cherish our local environment.”

Churchyards contain the vast majority of ancient yew trees in the UK and there are 157 aged over 2000 years old remaining. There is currently no legal protection for these trees and there is an online petition 'Save Britain’s ancient Yew trees before we lose any more' addressed to the Environment Secretary Michael Gove to try and get this changed. 

The Conservation Foundation is now looking to find out what happened to the trees. It is hosting a survey with ten questions including when was the tree was planted, its current height, care of the tree etc. You can find this on Survey Monkey.

We would like to find out what happened to the trees in Lincolnshire. The details could form part of a story feature for CrossLincs, the website and social media so do please let Sarah Spencer 
know if you have one.

Pictured is Brant Broughton's fine yew. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Harvey.