The spirit of a 17th century churchwarden could be re-awakened next week if the words of a mysterious epitaph comes true.
According to a wooden plaque in St Mary’s Church yard the man who planted a row of trees, which stand tall along the east end of the church, will rise above them all the day they are felled.
And next week three of the old lime trees, which are now hollow and in danger of falling, will be chopped down hundreds of years after they were planted.
Ironically, the man who planted them was called Isaac Greentree and was St Mary’s churchwarden in 1696.
His name is carved on a board at the back of the Harrow on the Hill church and plaque stands beneath the 10 trees which were planted in his memory.
Pauline Chandler, who is St Mary’s current churchwarden, said: "The trees were planted by Isaac Greentree and of course he was given a wooden memorial to affectionately go with his name. We do not know the date of the planting but according to our records he was a churchwarden here in 1696.
"Unfortunately three of his beloved lime trees are now hollow and in danger of falling. To our great sorrow they must be felled but we will of course be planting three new lime trees as soon as possible."
According to Parish Registers kept at the church Isaac Greentree was a farmer and was buried in the churchyard on March 31, 1702. It appears his first wife died in 1691 along with his two children who died young. He married his second wife Elizabeth in 1695 and they had two children, Isaac and Elizabeth, who both survived into adulthood. The family is described as ‘of Weald’ suggesting his farm was in Harrow Weald.
Reverend Tim Gosden, of St Mary’s Church, is disappointed the trees have to go. He said: "These trees have been part of our history for around 300 years but they are hollow and they could come down any minute. It is with deep regret they will not be here anymore but we will be replacing them with new saplings. There won’t just be a big hole.
"I think the memorial is very poignant and I think it means that when the trees come down Isaac’s memory will rise again. A tree is often a symbol of life and the poem could be referring to the resurrection of Isaac’s memory now the trees have to be felled."