In the heart of Darley Ford stands the Darley Oak, Cornwall’s oldest tree. Believed to be a thousand year old, the Darley Oak has lived through most of Cornwall’s recorded history, it has witnessed the development of its surrounding and it is surrounded by myths, stories and superstitions.
The Darley Oak was mentioned in a book in the year 1030; the documents belonged to the Dingle family, the owners of the land for around 800 years. In 1350 when the plague hit Cornwall, the Darley Oak was more than 300 years old and had grown into big strong tree and was still flourishing even though in the lands surrounding it, almost half of the population had died from the Black Death.
Between the 16th and 17th centuries, the Darley Farm and all its surrounding buildings as they are today were built around the magnificent oak tree, a wall was built around the tree, enclosing and protecting it within the front garden of the farm.
The age and size of the Darley Oak had gained the tree prominence at the start of the Victorian Era; there were superstations and stories told about the tree. Its acorns were believed served as protection when worn as an amulet by pregnant women, and it was also believed to have healing powers.
Due to its girth and the wide hollow in it, the oak served as host to several small parties. In 2002 it was recognised one of the Fifty Great British Trees.