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The Lime Tree Project

The double avenue of lime trees along Mill Road has long been seen as the perfect opportunity for visitors and the local community to enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

In the mid 1890’s the lime trees bordering Mill Lane were adopted and planted following the ‘new road’ build.  

“The opening of the fine new road presented to Arundel by the Duke of Norfolk is to be signalised tonight by a grand display of fireworks.” – West Sussex Gazette, 8th August 1894

The Duke and the Mayor simultaneously placed their hands on a cord extended across the road. Each gave a vigorous tug and a slip knot in the centre gave way. The Duke then said, “I now declare this road open to the public.” Hearty cheers followed this announcement and the band of the 2nd Volunteer Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment played the Royal Sussex March while the bells of the parish church commenced to peal.’

This ‘New Road’, still known as such by some of the older Arundel-born inhabitants, was later formally named Mill Road. Very few people today are aware that the original planting scheme consisted of alternate Lime and Alder trees. The idea was that the Alder, which were removed just a few years later, would encourage the Limes to grow taller in their search for sunlight. Thousands of visitors and locals continue to enjoy its beauty every year, walking to Swanbourne Lake and back between the double row of mature lime trees on either side.

Many of the trees had carvings made by WW2 Canadian Soldier. They parked under here just before D Day

Whilst much care has been taken over the years with their growth, development and sustainability, significant deterioration had naturally occurred to a proportion of the lime trees following adverse weather conditions.

Following a request for community support this year, more than thirty-five individuals came forward to sponsor lime trees and their planting! As a result, and with the support of our wonderful tree warden Bob Tanner and historian Cllr Mark Phillips, thirty-five Small Leaved Lime or Tilia cordata trees were purchased.

The original Lime trees were Common Lime Tilia europaea but in recent times the Small Leafed Lime Tilia cordata is preferred as they do not sprout new growth round the base of the tree every year – which has to be removed at significant expense – and are not infested with greenfly each summer.

Common Lime also attracts large bunches of parasitic mistletoe which grow in the upper branches as can be seen today on several of the older trees.

Grown in The Netherlands and supplied by Quercus Nursery (many thanks for their generous support), these seven year old rootballs were kindly planted by The Norfolk Estate team under the direction of Peter Knight, Estate Manager, in December 2020 to whom we are very grateful.

Every tree is individually numbered with each number corresponding to their sponsor and dedication. Walk this beautiful route, visit the trees and look through the wonderful sponsors and dedications at www.LoveArundel.org/limetreeproject .

With such importance and tribute to each tree planted, care will of course be taken to ensure these trees flourish and grow to live to their potential 150 years. This will include regular watering during their initial settling in years through any potential droughts.

In this time however, other trees may be lost to further deterioration and adverse weather. If and when this happens, another amazing stage of this community-based project will be available to support our local environment whilst giving a legacy to so many.

In conjunction with The Arundel Gardeners Association and Arundel Rotary Club, over two days in mid-February 2020, neatly sandwiched between storms Ciara and Dennis, children at our two local schools, St. Philips and ACE, planted thirty young Lime trees in their school grounds.

Each small tree carries a label bearing the name/s of the children who planted it and each school will maintain a list of those children and the locality of their individual tree. The children have therefore “taken possession” of the trees they planted and hopefully will help nurture them during their time at their school.

In due course, the trees will have grown large enough to be moved, one by one, as replacement trees along Mill Road, Arundel so that the magnificent avenue of Lime trees there can be preserved for future generations of residents and visitors to enjoy. These young trees, or saplings, are currently too small and fragile to be planted directly into their final, intended locations.

With help from those involved in the future transplanting of the trees, it should still be possible for the children, having left school, to keep track of “their tree” and eventually, in adulthood, proudly tell their children “that tree’s mine and I planted it!”

With this in mind and following the huge support given by so many, an Arundel Tree Fund will be established jointly between The Arundel Gardeners Association and local community to help support and maintain other tree areas within Arundel.

This really is a community project to span generations!