Britain’s oldest Christmas tree is up for its 95th YEAR

December 11, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

Britain’s oldest Christmas tree has gone up again – for the 95th YEAR.

Britain's oldest Christmas tree is up for its 95th YEAR (SWNS Group)

Britain’s oldest Christmas tree is up for its 95th YEAR (SWNS Group)

The artificial spruce, bought from Woolworths in 1920, is only eight years older than evergreen entertainer Sir Bruce Forsyth.

It has survived Hitler’s bombs and freak gales and been passed down through two generations to gran Kaye Ashton who still decorates it with the original trimmings.

Kaye, 61, said: “It’s a great piece of history and I’m so glad to have it.

“The branches are getting a bit delicate but as long as you’re careful with it, it’s still a wonderful decoration.

“To think, the tree has stayed the same for almost 100 years but everything around it has changed so much. The things it will have seen.”

Kaye, a gran-of-three from Sheffield, South Yorks., added: “I’ve kept all the original decorations – both those and the tree itself are so robust.

“I’m sure it will outlive me and go on for many more decades.

“I feel like I have to take great care of it, because there’s this tradition of passing it down the generations of girls in our family.

“It’s outlived two generations and even the shop it was bought from, so it’s obviously made of strong stuff.

“It takes pride of place in my living room although I do have a main tree as well because it’s down to just over one foot tall now.”

Kay Ashton, 60 of Sheffield with her 1920's Christmas tree (SWNS Group)

Kay Ashton, 60 of Sheffield with her 1920’s Christmas tree (SWNS Group)

The tree was first bought by Kaye’s grandmother Elizabeth Naylor in 1920 who named it William’s tree to mark her newborn son’s first Christmas that year.

He sadly died prematurely in 1940 aged 19 and the tree became a treasured family memorial to him.

Elizabeth – known as Nanan – died in 1981 aged 80 and the tree was inherited by her daughter, Joyce Ashton.

When Joyce died in 2012 Kaye became the third generation to own it.

Kaye said: “My nanan always had the tree in the kitchen. It was the only tree she ever had.

“During the Sheffield Blitz in the Christmas of 1941 they’d been warned to leave the house, but instead the whole family went down into the cellar.

“My nanan had put a heavy wrought iron mangle against the back door to keep it closed.

“But when a bomb was dropped across the road, the force blew the back door open, and the mangle went flying across the room and into the tree.

“When they came back upstairs, the living room was a mess – with the tree lying in the middle of it.

“The top of it had nearly come off and it’s been bent ever since, but it was fixed with sellotape and wire. Some of the original bits of tape are still on the tree and I daren’t take them off.
RPY_TREE_21“Then in 1962, Sheffield was hit by awful gales, people were even killed when buildings collapsed.

“I remember being at my nanan’s house and she asked my mother to close the back door.

“But before we knew, it, the tree had gone flying across the room and almost into the fire.

“The tree had taken another battering but it still did the job at Christmas.

“My nanan took great care with the tree and its decorations, and to this day I’ll only decorate William’s tree with the original decoration she used.

“I’ve taken a leaf out of my nanan’s book and I wrap the decorations in bubble wrap when they’re not in use.”

Divorced Kaye, a customer service advisor, has two daughters, Amy Wilcox, 43, and Rebecca Goodhand, 36, to keep up the family tradition.

Rebecca also has daughters, Phoebe, 11 and Tallulah, nine, meaning the tree could find itself with a fifth generation.

Kaye added: “I think my nanan would be really touched to know the tree is still going strong and being used – and so would William.

“We’ll definitely have to have a party when it reaches 100. It’s amazing to think it’s lived through so much. I can’t imagine it not being around.”

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