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5,000 year old fossilised black oak tree table on view at Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral Press Release

A 13m long table created from a 5,000-year-old fossilised black oak tree, discovered in the fens, to make its debut appearance at Ely Cathedral.

The giant black oak tree was found in a field at Wissington Fen in 2012, the year of HM The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. For the past 10 years, a team of privately funded specialist crafts people have created a stunning sculptured table, from the 5000 year old wood, preserving it in perpetuity for future generations to admire and use.

Hamish Low, has led the project over the last 10 years and has been delighted with the generosity of private donors, local businesses, charitable foundations and trusts. 

“We are truly grateful to all those who have funded this project. In addition to the support that has come from The Building Crafts College in Stratford, London, who not only allowed the use of their workshop facilities but encouraged students from their cabinet making and woodworking courses to get involved.” 

The initial plan was for the table to be exhibited in Ely Cathedral’s Lady Chapel, but the sheer size limited any other activities taking place with the space.

Instead it will be located in the main Cathedral in one of the side aisles, running parallel to the Nave, where visitors can feel the table and appreciate the size and craftmanship. Information boards will detail the history of black oak (known locally as ‘bog oak’), and highlight elements of the 10 year project including its commemoration to HM The Queen.

The Dean of Ely, The Very Revd Mark Bonney says

“Ely Cathedral sits prominently in the Fen landscape, a landscape that five thousand years ago was dominated not by a Cathedral, but by the most magnificent oak trees. All that remains of these tress are pieces of Black Oak that Fen farmers find on a regular basis, though a piece of as long as the Black Oak table, discovered ten years ago, is a truly remarkable, and it’s transformation into a magnificent table a stunning piece of craftsmanship.

We are delighted that such a noteworthy piece of craftsmanship should make its debut appearance in the Cathedral. The table has been dedicated to HM The Queen and we feel very honoured to be the first venue to host it, in this her Platinum Jubilee year”.  

The key sponsors who have supported the project from day one includes Peter and Claire Shropshire, John and Trish Shropshire, Ely-based Malco Freight, Logosol UK, Sackville Oak Frames and Kent and London based furniture design makers Steve Cook and Mauro Dell’Orco. 

Visit and find out more

  • The Jubilee Black Oak Table will be in the Cathedral until March 2023.
  • Please check website for details.
  • For further information please contact Lesley Ann Thompson - 01353 660350 / 07930 918885

Images Credit – Keith Heppel/Ely Cathedral


Page last updated: Friday 10th June 2022 10:23 AM
First published on: 10th June 2022
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