‘Hitler’s oak’ at How Hill given new lease of life

Stephen Pullinger Broads Correspondent
Monday, December 30, 2013
11:31 AM

An oak presented as a sapling to a gold medal-winning Norfolk Olympian at the 1936 Berlin Games has been saved after extensive tree surgery.

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Olympic yachtsman Christopher Boardman was the eldest son of Edward Boardman, who built How Hill House at Ludham, and the oak was planted in the grounds of what is now an environmental study centre run by the How Hill Trust.

In the spring, Broads Authority experts had recommended the tree, originally damaged in the 1987 Great Storm, should be felled because of its dangerous condition.

However, because of its historical significance, trust director Simon Partridge vowed to try to save it.

He said: “We took advice from the tree officer at North Norfolk District Council and he said it could be saved by a good tree surgeon.

“It looked very stunted after the pollarding work was done but there has been good growth over the summer with a fine crop of acorns and we have been told it should continue to grow well and outlive us all.”

Mr Boardman, who died in 1987, had been uncomfortable about the Nazi regime and declined to go to the medal presentation by Adolf Hitler. A crew member who did go picked up the sapling and it was decided Mr Boardman should have it as helmsman.

Mr Partridge said only four saplings, which were presented to all winners, came back to Britain and How Hill’s Hitler’s Oak was the last one surviving.

He said: “The tree attracts considerable interest and when its plight was publicised I had an email from someone in Wellington, New Zealand, to say they had a Hitler’s Oak too and they were very proud of theirs.”

The Olympian’s nephew, holly farmer Peter Boardman, 81, still lives on neighbouring How Hill Farm.

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