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50 Great British Trees project

I have an exciting new project to announce!

In 2014, I decided to begin a lifelong project to see all 50 of the Great British Trees, as listed by the Tree Council. Starting with the 4500 year-old Ankerwycke Yew in Runnymede I have visited the Charlton House Mulberry Tree (the first of it's kind in the UK), the Crowhurt Yew (which had a cannonball embedded inside it dating back to the English Civil War), and the impressive Tortworth Chesnut in Gloucestershire.

Last weekend I brought that number up to six, having visited the Big Belly Oak in Savernake Forest, and the first Cedar of Lebanon in the UK, planted in Childrey, Oxfordshire, in 1642:

All trees on the list are impressive in their own way, and they all seem to be notable for whole variety of reasons. Some of the trees are very old, other very large, and some have historical or social importance.

So, I am excited to announce that running alongside this project I plan to build at least one musical instrument per year that pays homage to one of these trees. The remit I have set myself is pretty open: I hope to use the same species of timber where possible, but also acknowledge the social and historical importance of each tree as well, and try to find ways to implement all of these ideas into the design of the instrument.

I am not restricting myself to guitars - I hope that this life long project will encompass everything from mandolins to ukuleles, bouzoukis to basses.

So where to begin? Well, I felt inspired by the enormous 400 year-old cedar that I saw in Childrey last weekend. A cedar of lebanon soundboard and neck blank is on order, and with these I will be revisiting the plans for my popular 000 model. Watch. This. Space.

Alex Bishop

PS: My thanks to good friend and woodworker Danny Piton for inspiring this project, and who has been accompanying me along the way!

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