Meanwhile, across the Channel, the families owning more than 100 British stately homes and estates have pledged centuries-old, mature oaks from their properties for the reconstruction. Apparently, there are very few, if any, trees in France suitable for the purpose (that’s not in the linked article, but I read it somewhere the other day).
It’s estimated that the rebuilding of Notre Dame’s roof will take about 1,300 mature oaks, so there’s a long way to go, but this is a very promising start, and in the tradition of the families, which have donated trees following major fires at heritage sites such as York Cathedral in the past. Newly signing onto the pact is Sir Benjamin Slade, who considers his gift of 50 oaks from his 2,000 acre estate, to be his share of reparations to the French for his ancestors having defeated Napoleon (his connection is personal–one of those ancestors designed Nelson’s Trafalgar ship, HMS Victory, and used English oak to build it).
A spokesman for the aristocrat added: ”When once asked by an American visitor to Maunsel House, what his families’ main line of business over the centuries consisted of, he replied ‘mainly killing the French’.
(The article also mentions that Sir Benjamin, who made his fortune as a shipping magnate, is conducting a search for a wife who will provide him with two sons. He says he wants a “lady of the house” who “will be happy with £50,000 a month pocket money,” (hello?) although it seems that many a lady of suitable age who’s listened to his list of requirements has walked away unimpressed. Just saying.)
Nevertheless, it’s a good thing that Sir Benjamin, and dozens of others are doing. I know there was considerable doubt that the huge, mature, oak timbers to rebuild the roof could be located anywhere, yet it seems that little by little, by one by (as my Polish grandmother-in-law used to say), they’re being found and made available.
Bravo! Et bon!
*The oak in the photo at the top of this post is the “Major (Robin Hood) Oak,” in the middle of Sherwood Forest. It’s thought to be between 800 and 1000 years old. I don’t expect it’s going anywhere.