The Golden Wedding Anniversary – Planting of the Copper Beech Trees
On 25th October 1905, the 5th Marquess, Henry Ulick Browne (1831-1913, son of the 2nd Marquess Howe Peter) and Marchioness, Catherine Henrietta Dicken (1836-1914) celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary. Not only did they have several parties and received many beautiful gifts – they also planted four Copper Beech trees around the Estate to mark the occasion. Three of the four Copper Beech trees still survive on the Estate today. The remains of the fourth tree have been discovered and a cross section of the wood tree ring has been preserved and covered in Danish oil to mark its significance and retain it as a historical piece of the Golden Wedding anniversary celebrations.
The Copper Beech trees are some of the tallest trees in the Westport House woodland. The tree forms a broad oval top and can grow up from 60 – 100 feet in the right conditions. The leaves begin a wine colour and mature into a deep purple by mid-summer and then transform into a wonderful copper red in Autumn. The tree produces beechnuts which is the fruit of the tree which provides food for the wildlife in the area.
An excerpt taken from the 5th Marchioness’ diary- ‘My Reminiscences’ describes their special occasion, recollecting the great festivities that ensued – “Then came our Golden Wedding on the 25th of October, 1905. Fifty years of married life! A long time to look back upon. We passed it at Westport, where we spent some months every year since my husband succeeded to the Marquisate. We had a large house-party for the occasion and were fourteen to lunch on that day, and we received a great many presents from friends and relatives – our eight surviving children giving us a large, two-handled, silver-gilt Cup. We had a Supper and Dance for our employees (130 in number) which we attended. I went in a golden brocade dress, in honour of the Golden Wedding, and they gave us a speech, to which my husband replied. A few days after we gave an afternoon party, to which all our friends around were invite, and then the servants were allowed to give a Dance to all their friends, so everyone was feted. We planted four trees (Copper Beech) on that day also, and all our children each planted a tree to commemorate the day”.
Copy with thanks to Kathryn Connolly, Supervisor at Westport House. Photo credit to Michael King, Estate & Construction Manager.
If you have been enjoying our blogs, we wanted you to know that this is the final week to enjoy Restoration Tours of Westport House (we finish up on October 31st). You will will need to pre-book as there will be limited numbers and intimate group sizes of no more than 15 people. Visitors will be met at the Construction Site Gate at the Old Bridge by the house at the tour start time. The guided element of the tour will take place outdoors where a guide will outline the core body of works taking place to protect the exterior of the house. You will then be invited in to the house to visit the main floor of the house and see the interior works. You can expect to learn more of what you’ve been reading in these blogs on the tour and in fact, Kathryn will be hosting many of the tours. The entirety of the tour will take place on the ground – I’m afraid that we will not be able to take you up on the scaffolding for obvious health and safety reasons. After the tour, you will be escorted back to the bridge gate to exit. Closed toe shoes are required and high vis vests and hard hats will be supplied for your use during the tour. Duration will be 60 minutes and the cost will be €13.50 per person. All tours must be pre-booked online at shop.westporthouse.ie. We hope to see you here soon.