First published in my former website, Looking into the Dark Places, in 2001.
You might also like to read Pokin’ ’round Cliveden
In 1880 the Corporation of London purchased 80 hectares of pollard woodland plus East Burnham Common. Since then more land has been added to the reserve now known as Burnham Beeches making it 220 hectares. It is an extraordinarily beautiful place with an almost tangible aura of mystery.
One morning early in August (2001) I visited Burnham Beeches for the first time. I had been intrigued by references to the ancient woodland in David Icke’s Biggest Secret and Children of the Matrix. I have always loved woodlands and it seemed a good idea to combine reconnaissance and pleasure together in one field trip, so to speak.
I first clapped eyes on Burnham Beeches when I arrived at the sign pictured above. When I hopped out of the car to read this sign I was struck by the shape of the area and some of the names within and surrounding it. Places like Egypt and Egypt Lane in the NE corner, Mendelssohn’s Slope and Hardicanute’s Moat all intrigued me. Map of Burnham Beeches
All was quiet, the paths seemed a little too kempt for a truly wild place but I set out along Lord Mayor’s Drive and soon came upon Druid’s Oak, but not before spotting the tell-tale Scots Pine and Rowan Ash trees guarding each side of the entrance.
Druid’s Oak is reckoned to be about 700 years old. Quite how it got it’s name is a mystery according to Park literature. The obvious explanation is …that it was used… by Druids. Tucked in close to the immediate south of the mighty trunk a young oak sapling ruts the ancient king’s domain. While sprouting from under his roots, exactly north sprouts a young Holly.
A short walk of a few metres (not meters as park literature spells it -meters measure things) and I arrived at the Paddocks, Bottom Paddock and Top Paddock. (One has to wonder at the ingenuity of the person who thought up these names-but still). These paddocks are truly weird, a place of nightmares I should imagine. Dotted with old pollarded Beech trees said to be around 450 years old the atmosphere is haunting accentuated by the lonely crow (the only bird I saw for about an hour) that called me into this otherworld. The shapes of these gnarled and battle-scarred cellulous guardians caused one to think that you had stepped into a land inhabited by witches and ruled by dragons.
Immediately one could see where busy feet had trodden down the grass around all of the trees.
Using my divining rods I asked which tree in the enclosure had been used most times for satanic rites. The rod pointed straight west to the dead-est looking tree I could see. As I followed the rods over I very nearly tripped over a plaque buried in the ground. It was swarming with big ants. Experience has shown me that the presence of stinging insects is a good indication of harmful energy.
After a circuit of the Paddocks I ventured up to the crossroads known as Victory Cross and then turned right to follow the stream back to my car. There seemed to be plenty of Scots Pines around the Cross.
A short walk and I was upon a stream that ambled into a very brown pool. A mass of water lilies festooned the rush-lined pool, and I saw something move… It was a duck. There were more creatures in ‘Burn yer Britches’ than me and the crow. Then there was another duck…and a moor-hen…
At last things were hotting up on the wildlife front. After a brief rest on a park bench in this testing wilderness I packed my flask and beat my way through the heel deep twigs. A squirrel scampered up a nearby tree trunk, stopped, and peered out at me. A little wren buzzed quickly into some thick bush and I even spotted a robin picking through some leaf litter.
It was then that I sensed that weird feeling that you are being watched. When the hairs on the back of your neck stretch out and your whole body shivers.
I looked around and was confronted by the most bizarre- shaped tree. It was as close to an inverted pentagram as a tree could get but it also looked as if given the inclination, it could move to wherever it wanted to.
Plainly others had previously felt the uniqueness of this tree. Lots of carvings had been dug into its withering form, but alas mostly unreadable. It is known that satanists mark trees…so maybe. Much of the tree is rotting and a huge cavity is spreading through the main trunk.
It was a pleasant and very interesting couple of hours in a beautiful but rather too tended (for my liking anyway) nature reserve. I spotted one or two other ‘adventurers’ braving the drizzle that had accompanied the day but otherwise I had the place almost exclusively to myself…until I reached the road where a string of cars lined the side of the road outside a snack bar. A snack bar in an ancient woodland?
Now that is strange!
13th August 2001
Update 28th August 2015):
I have been informed that in the late 60s the Archbishop of Canterbury dispatched his top exorcist to Buckinghamshire. I’m told that among the several sites he performed exorcism rites were Burnham Beeches and Cliveden (about 2 or 3 miles away). If it’s true he’d have been busier than a one-legged man in an arse-kicking contest in Buckinghamshire.
Beaconsfield and Christmas Common are also only a few miles away. You might find this book of interest (soon to be published at time of writing.)
HOW TO GET THERE:
From Beeches Road off the A355 (13) in Farnham Common.
Burnham Beeches is a short walk from Farnham common but there is plenty of parking on the edge of the woods.
Some of the roads within the park are accessible by car.