Tuesday 11 August 2009

The Elfin Oak

After our run this morning,
Maddy and I were obliged to kill some time waiting for the cafe to open.
We found this ancient hollowed oak in a previously unnoticed gated reserve,

and in it,

a cache of berries.

But how did they get there?

And then I remembered this:

The Elfin Oak in Kensington Gardens
which I visited earlier this year.
This gnarled partially hollowed oak stump is thought to be
800 years old.
It was sculpted and designed by Ivor Innes between 1928 and 1930.

He carved the figures of fairies,
elves and various small animals following the contours of the wood.

The tree depicts the world of the Little People,
of Wookey the witch with her three jars of health, wealth and happiness;
of Huckleberry the gnome, carrying bags of berries up the stairway
to the banquet within Bark Hall
(so it was him)

of Grumples and Groodles the Elves being woken up by
Brownie, Dinkie and Rumplelocks and stealing eggs from the crow's nest.

The Elfin Oak of Kensington Gardens, the children's book which Ivor Innes published
with his wife Elsie in 1930, describes how
"for centuries now it has been the home of fairies, gnomes, elves, imps, and pixies.
In the nooks and crannies they lurk, or peer out of holes and crevices,
their natural windows and doorways.
It is their hiding-place by day, their revelry place by night,
and when the great moon tops the bare branchless tree
the Elfin Clans come out to play and frolic in the moonlight."

(Elsie Innes, The Elfin Oak of Kensington Gardens, Frederick Warne & Co, 1930).

The Mulberry tree at the Dulwich Picture Gallery.

And blackcurrants from a friend.


  1. We had so much fun looking at these pictures, Lucille!!!

    And now I'm off to search for that book...I hope I can find it:)

  2. Very scarce and very expensive - I looked!

  3. Yes...I discovered the very same thing. Too bad...it sounds like a wonderful story:)