Folklore

The legend of the Oak & the Ash


The Lovers Story

Just to the south of Peckleton there stands, in the middle of a field, an oddity of nature - a tree that is both oak and ash. Many of the walks undertaken by ramblers pass by it and may be unaware of how the oak and ash came to grow in this particular spot.

The story begins some time during the latter half of the 18th century when the landscape around Peckleton, Kirkby Mallory, and Earl Shilton was greatly different to today. The fields were much smaller and the land was tilled by people of all ages - generations of the same families working the same fields year on year.

There was a lot of rivalry between the families and the groups of workers would generally keep apart. However, as might be expected, where the boundaries met it was occasionally impossible for the workers not to meet and pass the time of day with people from outside their own close knit community.


Smiles

Thus it was that one day, during the last days of harvest, a young lady from Peckleton caught the eye of a young man from Earl Shilton on the far side of the valley.

From this very first moment, a spark was kindled in their hearts, and at every opportunity they would glance up from their labours and smile at each other. As the days became shorter and the harvest drew to a close, the young man decided that he must arrange a meeting with the girl before they would have to return to their respective villages, perhaps never to see each other again.


Whispers

As luck would have it, just as he was despairing of getting close enough to speak to here, he was asked by his father to fetch water from the stream, and to do this he would have to pass close by the girl. As he was passing, he whispered to her "I love you, meet me tonight at this spot if you love me". With this he moved away, wondering if she would turn up.

He had no need to worry for the girl had indeed fallen in love with him, and although he had only ever smiled at her, she knew in her heart there could never be another man for her.

Throughout the autumn and at every opportunity in the winter they would meet at the same spot and spend an hour or two enjoying the changing of the seasons and each others company, their love growing stronger by the day. Unfortunately, although they wished only to be together forever, their parents had other ideas and one day the girls' father announced that he had promised her hand in marriage to a young man from another village.

This almost broke her heart but, as an obedient daughter, she knew she would have to agree to the match. Therefore on a day in early Spring, as she sat with her love at the spot where they had courted since the first shy glances across the golden sheaves of corn, she sobbed out the fact that they must part forever. There was no chance of eloping as they had no money and although broken hearted, the young man accepted that his beloved would never truly be his and this must be their last meeting.

Suddenly he had an idea. Although no one must know of their secret tryst, there could still be a memorial to their love.


Together in spirit

They would each collect the seed of a tree and plant them side by side, he an acorn and she a winged seed of an ash, so that at least in spirit they could always be together. Over the years the two trees grew, past the first flush of spring and throughout the glory of summer.

As the seasons passed they didn't grow straight and true, they grew closer together, the oak wrapping itself around the ash to protect it in a fond embrace that echoed the love of these two young people.

While the trees stand the proof of enduring love is there to see for all who care to pass that way.

Perhaps if you stand very still and quiet, you may hear the sound of gentle voices and laughter, or is it the murmuring of the stream close by? Local people have reported that the have seen the ghosts of the young couple embracing by the tree; I don't believe it myself, but I suppose it could be true.

That is the legend of the oak and the ash. If it isn't true, then I think it should be.


Ted Orton.

the oak and ash tree at peckleton
The Oak and Ash Tree at Peckleton
Join Facebook Group