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Published: 28 November 2020

By Andy Ross

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An ancient mulberry tree

The mulberry tree in Lesnes Abbey's grounds stands where the Abbotts lodgings and kitchen gardens would have been. 

Now on the edges of the ruins of the Abbey, (the photograph is of those ruins showing how impressive this complex of buildings was) built in 1178 by Richard de Luci, Chief Justiciar of England, the mulberry tree is propped up, and even in its old age, suitably gnarled and contorted, stands proudly. So it should for this tree was probably planted when King James I attempted to bring silk production to England and enlisted the help of landowners to plant mulberries to support the endeavour. That particular project did not succeed because the trees planted were black mulberries and silkworms prefer the white variety. It was only in the 18th Century, when raw silk was imported to feed the growing businesses set up by Huguenot weavers, primarily in London's Spitalfields, that England gained a silk weaving industry.