Ulmus Londinium

Celebrating the elm tree’s relationship with London’s historic built environment, crafts and biodiversity

Installed in Somerset House, London (Oct 2015 - Apr 2016)
Client: The Conservation Foundation

Forty years ago it was impossible to walk through a London park and not notice the unmistakable outline of the elm tree. But in the 1970s millions of elm trees were lost to Dutch Elm Disease, transforming the urban landscape.

The Ulmus Londinium installation in the New Wing Entrance of Somerset House, told the story of London’s elm heritage over the centuries. It was created for The Conservation Foundation’s on going Ulmus Londinium project.

Before Dutch Elm Disease swept through Britain, the elm was an everyday sight to Londoners. Its water resistant wood was used to underpin the arches of Old London Bridge, the water pipes made of elm wood carried London’s first piped water, whilst Henry Vlll’s doomed queen Anne Boleyn was buried in an elm coffin. The trees legacy continues to live on in the names of our streets and places, such as Nine Elms, which recognise the formidable trees that once towered above them.

The installation featured some of Elm’s many uses from medieval London to the present day, including boats, chairs, coffins, water pipes, wagon wheels and herbal remedies. Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Conservation Foundation’s Ulmus Londinium project has included 700 new plantings to regenerate London’s elm population.

The capital is still home to surviving Elms in our streets and parks, improving our biodiversity and raising awareness of their importance to the capital’s heritage and ecosystem.

For more information, please visit (Conservation Foundation)

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