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Britain’s Oldest Christmas Tree Still Standing After 103 Years

Surviving wars, pandemics, and house moves, a two-foot artificial tree remains a cherished family heirloom.

Britain’s oldest Christmas tree has been erected – for the 103rd year in a row. Kay Ashton, 69, puts up the two foot tree – which has survived four monarchs, two global pandemics and 21 prime ministers – every single year. The artificial tree, which is thought to be the oldest in the country, was bought from Woolworths for sixpence by Kay’s grandmother Elizabeth Naylor in 1920.


The tree survived Hitler’s bombs in the blitz during the Second World War and eight house moves to stay in the family for three generations. Kay says some of her earliest Christmas memories include the tree and the cherished moment still takes pride of place in her kitchen in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.


“I remembered it being about six feet when I was little, even though it stood on the television. But of course, you realize it’s actually about 18 inches tall. It’s been through at least four monarchs now the Queen has passed away,” said Kay.


“If only the tree had got a video on, and we could look back and see what the tree had seen,” she added.


The tree was bought in December 1920 to celebrate the first Christmas of Kay’s great uncle William, who was born two months before the festive period. But he tragically passed away at the age of 19, which is why Kay has vowed to never throw the tree away, as her nan was ‘so attached to it.’

However she thinks her nan would be ‘surprised’ it’s still going all these years later.


“I think she would be surprised as we all are. I also think she would be surprised that we’ve not chucked it in the bin yet,” said Kay.


The tree also incredibly survived a blitz of Sheffield’s steelworks in December 1940 when the city was bombarded by the Luftwaffe for three consecutive nights. Kay says the impact of the bomb blast launched the decoration from the kitchen to the living room and sticky tape was used to repair it.


“It was damaged in the Blitz when Sheffield was bombed. My family were in the cellar but the house across the road had a direct hit so the tree was blown off the windowsill into the fire, but the fire was out. It’s had blitz damage,” said Kay.


The majority of the bells on the tree are from 1920, but a couple are from the 1960s so Kay has to keep sellotaping the tree back together as it’s so fragile.


“With the way it’s been treated and the condition, I’m surprised it’s still going. It can be very underwhelming, it’s the family joke because people laugh when they see it. I put it up later and later every year because it’s so fragile. The slightest thing will knock it off the side,” said Kay, who retired from working for BT three years ago.


Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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