If you need proof that a treehouse can last a lifetime here’s the proof. Pitchford tree house is certainly one of the oldest, if not the oldest tree house in the world.
It was built by Shrewsbury wool merchants, the Ottley family, who bought Pitchford Hall in 1473. The Lime Tree it’s built in is estimated to be 800-900 years old.
It is not known exactly when the tree house was constructed, but, according to John Yates from English Heritage, it is at least 300 years old.
Its most famous visitor is said to have been Queen Victoria, who visited Pitchford as a 13-year-old princess. According to John Yates from English Heritage the future monarch described Pitchford Hall itself as, “a very big cottage”. Today the building is considered to be one of the finest timber-framed buildings in the country.
From the outside, the tree house looks like a miniature replica of Pitchford Hall. But John Yates said it had not always been like that.
“It started out with render all over it, to look like a stone building perched in the tree, so it would have been even stranger then,” he said.
The tree house has been renovated at various times throughout its history, but in July 2010 English Heritage placed the building on its At Risk Register. John Yates said it was because the steps to the tree house were in a state of disrepair. What English Heritage hadn’t realized was that joint-owner Michael Ashmore had deliberately taken the steps out to prevent people trespassing on his land and possibly getting hurt.Mr Yates said: “The steps, which are vital to maintaining it, are in an incomplete and terrible state. That’s one of the reasons why we regard it as at risk.” Mr Ashmore, who maintains the tree house himself, does not regard the steps as part of it. Even so, he has agreed to put them back. In reply, John Yates said English Heritage would consider removing the tree house from its At Risk Register, once it had been checked. The incredible part of this bureaucratic nonsense is to even consider destroying this landmark. It’s the height of modern arrogance.
It may turn out however, that a bigger risk to the tree house could be the tree in which it sits. Owner Michael Ashmore recently had it carbon-dated by an expert from Kew Gardens, who thought it could be up to 900 years old. Lime trees normally only live for about 400 years. Perhaps the tree has a will to live which should be respected.
The tree house is now almost entirely supported by metal struts and Mr Ashmore has secured the tree branches with wires to prevent as much movement as possible. Bravo and kudos to Mr. Ashmore.