Fallen wisteria thought to be 100-years-old could have been one of oldest in UK

The wisteria in Newman’s Yard, Fakenham, was believed to be a century old when it finally succumbed

The wisteria in Newman’s Yard, Fakenham, was believed to be a century old when it finally succumbed to the elements in late September. Picture: Submitted - Credit: Submitted

It has stood watch over a market town yard for more than a century - or so locals thought.

A wisteria tree in Fakenham's Newmans Yard was believed to be the fifth oldest in the country. Pictu

A wisteria tree in Fakenham's Newmans Yard was believed to be the fifth oldest in the country. Picture: Gilly Foortse - Credit: Archant

The wisteria in Newman’s Yard, Fakenham, was believed to be a century old when it finally succumbed to the elements in late September.

But it could be that its roots are much older than that - and may even be that they are some of the oldest of their kind in the country.

Retired tradesman, John Williamson, 74, from Walsingham, spent many years working in the yard as a painter and decorator.

During the early 80s, after he returned after a job in Oxfordshire, he bumped into a tree surveyor assessing the wisteria.

A wisteria tree in Fakenham's Newmans Yard was believed to be the fifth oldest in the country. PHOT

A wisteria tree in Fakenham's Newmans Yard was believed to be the fifth oldest in the country. PHOTO: IAN BURT - Credit: IAN BURT


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“I was at the yard when a chap came to inspect the tree to see if it was okay because the trunk had split many years before and it was being held together by wire and concrete,” he said.

“We got to chatting and he told me, ‘would you believe the roots are estimated to be feeding out of the River Wensum?’

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“I was also told it was the fifth oldest wisteria in the country.”

The expert, from Kew gardens, visited the established shrub and confirmed that it is one of the longest in the country.

A wisteria in Fakenham's Newmans Yard fell after being battered by wind and rain. Picture: Gilly Foo

A wisteria in Fakenham's Newmans Yard fell after being battered by wind and rain. Picture: Gilly Foortse - Credit: Archant

Members of Fakenham’s historical society said they had no way of knowing the actual age of the wisteria but have no reason to doubt claims by older townsfolk.

Because wisteria is a shrub, not a tree, it could not benefit from a protection order.

Mr Williamson said the news made him ‘feel his age’ after seeing it tower above him almost every week while working.

The yard, which is tucked away off Norwich Street, kept the wisteria well hidden.

The wisteria was homed above the Tea Rooms in Newlands Yard on Norwich Street in Fakenham. Picture:

The wisteria was homed above the Tea Rooms in Newlands Yard on Norwich Street in Fakenham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Mayor of Fakenham, Gilly Foortse described its demise as a ‘sad day’ for the town, something which Mr Williamson echoed.

He now hopes there is something placed there to remember the tree.

“It is a bit sad to think something that old has come to the end of its life, but that’s how things are,” he said.

“A plaque should be put up there on the wall saying that this area was where one of the oldest wisteria trees was living.”

In full leaf, the wisteria in Newman's Yard, Fakenham on Aug 21st 2020, just one month before it fel

In full leaf, the wisteria in Newman's Yard, Fakenham on Aug 21st 2020, just one month before it fell. Picture: Fakenham Community Archive/Alan Leventhall - Credit: Archant

His request has been heard by the town’s historical society, who have created a webpage in memory of the famous shrub.

Two photos, taken from the same spot in Newman's Yard off Norwich Street during 2020. Picture 1 show

Two photos, taken from the same spot in Newman's Yard off Norwich Street during 2020. Picture 1 shows the wisteria on 5th May in all its glory, while picture 2 was taken post wisteria on 14th October. Picture: Anna Coburn/Fakenham Community Archive - Credit: Archant

May 2003, the 200 year-old wisteria which until recently populated Newman's Yard off Norwich Street.

May 2003, the 200 year-old wisteria which until recently populated Newman's Yard off Norwich Street. Picture: Fakenham Community Archive. - Credit: Archant

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