Green Park is often dismissed as the ‘boring’ Royal Park. The verdant triangle between Piccadilly and Buckingham Palace lacks the flowerbeds and lakes of its larger neighbours. It’s a place to pass through, rather than linger.
Of course, there’s more to discover if only you look. A case in point is this ring of mighty plane trees. I must have walked past dozens of times without noticing the leafy torus. But once you spot it, it’s really, really obvious. And it’s right next to the main path near Spencer House, between the tube station and the Palace.
The 13 trees that make up the ring are all sturdy, mature specimens that must have been growing here for a century or more. That number, and the pagan associations of tree rings, have led to some peculiar theories over the years. Were they planted to symbolise the 13 Celtic months of the year? Perhaps they are an Outlander-style portal to another time or place. Probably not, though when I examined the trunks in autumn, I did find that someone had marked the trees with clock faces.
Author Christ Street has further linked the circle to what he describes as a “geometric pattern of sacred sites and energy centres”. A less spiritual theory suggests that the trees mark the site of the Temple of Concord, a much-admired though short-lived structure that stood in the park during the early 19th century. It was of similar size and location to the trees, though it was probably cleared away decades before the trees arrived.
I suspect the truth is more prosaic. The trees were probably planted in a circle on a groundsman’s whim, or simply because a circle of trees is an eye-catching feature. According to the Royal Parks website, a bandstand stood within the ring from 1913 to 1980, though it’s unclear whether this feature or the ring of trees came first.
However it came into being, be sure to seek out the circle of trees next time you’re in the park — a natural wonder hiding in plain (or plane) sight.
With thanks to Victor Keegan for the tip-off.