The Elfin Oak of Kensington Gardens
Sights to See In London
Image of an elf carved into the Elfin Oak of Kensington Gardens.

It may seem amazing, but an old tree stump in London actually is one of the most famous pieces of wood in the world.

Of course, it is sort of amazing that a tree stump has been saved for 900 years and is actually a tourist attraction in London's Kensington Garden.

I'm not even sure that "stump" is a good word to describe what is essentially a hollow log which was transported from Richmond Park in 1928 as a gift to a public plan by Lady Fortescue.

This action was part of a plan for public improvements in London fostered by George Lansbury, a british politician, socialist, Christian pacifist and newspaper editor. Lansbury was also a Member of Parliament from 1910 to 1912 and from 1922 to 1940, and was the leader of the Labour Party from 1932 to 1935.

Sometimes referred to as "The Commissioner for Good Works", Lansbury was also involved with the construction, among many other public works, of a large open air swimming pool on the Serpentine in Hyde Park, which was popularly known as "Lansbury's Lido".

Whatever Lansbury's motivation and/or expectations for the move, in the two years following the move, the 900-year-old hunk of wood was tranformed into a work of art by illustrator Ivor Innes.

Innes carved several figures of elves, such as "Wookey the Witch" into the stump, hence leading to the current popluar name of "Elfin Oak".

Over the years, despite a momentary flash of fame when featured on the inside cover of Pink Floyd's 1969 album Ummagumma, the Elfin Oak lost some of its glory.  However, in 1996, comedian Spike Milligan, a lifetime fan of the old oak, led a movement to have it restored. He was successful, and, in 1997 then Heritage Minister Tony Banks declared it a Grade II listed structure.

Travelers to London can easily visit the Elfin Oak in Kensington Garden, but a strong metal framework has been erected around it to protect it from the public.

The Elfin Oak is next to the cafe and the Princess Diana Children's Play Area only a few yards from the gate on Bayswater Road which is close to the Queensway Tube Station of the London Underground.

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Page Updated 8:29 AM Saturday 10/24/2015