Penshurst Acorn Stone

John, one of my regular readers, put me onto this. It’s a dressed sandstone stone at the corner of Sunny Bank Plantation at the foot of Clay Bank. The inscription says “NOV 1906 PENSHURST ACORN”. The wording occupied my thoughts on my cycle home. A boundary stone? But sandstone boundary stones are more usual on the high moors and a few generations earlier. I can not think of any 20th century boundary stones on the moors. Back home Google came up with some clues.

In Penshurst Place, in Kent there is, or was, a very famous oak tree called the Sidney Oak after Sir Philip Sidney, a prominent Elizabethan soldier, poet and courtier. I say was because it finally succumbed to old age only last year, reputed to be 1,000 years old. Does the stone mark the spot where an acorn from the Penshurst Sidney Oak was planted? There is no oak tree now growing underneath the shade of an overgrown spruce.

But is there a connection between this odd corner of Ingleby Greenhow and Penshurst Place. Well yes, in the mid 19th century, Lady Mary Foulis, only child and heiress of the last Foulis baronet, Lord of the Manor of Ingleby Greenhow, married the 2nd Lord de Lisle & Dudley of Penshurst Castle, who was a descendant of the said Sir Philip Sydney. So the two estates came to belong to the same family.

Apparently there are another 4 or 5 similar stones in the neighbourhood. I wonder if those acorns have had more success.

For those who like a scenic posting, there is a fine view of Roseberry from the stone looking almost due north, unfortunately that spruce tree prevented me from getting it as a backdrop, so a bonus today:

From Sunny Bank Plantation

Penshurst Acorn Stone map


3 thoughts on “Penshurst Acorn Stone”

  1. Yes, that’s the conclusion I came to but by a rather more convoluted route. Back in 1997 (6th September to be exact, the country was in thrall to a circus so I headed for the hills) I came across the stone and like you was mystified. I thought it might be a grave marker for some trusty steed (OK you can laugh but back in my youth I was subjected to the Horse of the Year Show on the BBC more times than I care to remember). Back in 1997 t’internet was not packed with as much use..ful/less (delete as appropriate) information as it is now so I was none the wiser. Fast forward 15 years to 2012 and I moved to Ingleby Greenhow parish. I noted in the deeds to my house (which is spring fed) that I would owe 2d/1000 gallon that I used over 15,330,000 gallons (we’ve cut back on baths!) to some bloke called The Right Honourable William Philip (Sixth) Baron D’Lisle and Dudley V.C.. A bit of research showed he won his V.C. at Anzio and that his family seat was Penshurst Place with its famous oak, and the mystery was resolved. I did find some info suggesting that the family had a habit of planting the acorns at various spots around the world.

    As for the other stones, they appear on O.S. 1:2500 maps from 1893. I’m assuming these stones serve a similar purpose. They are all on the edge of coverts that were not evident on earlier maps and were presumably planted as game cover on the estate. Sunny Bank Wood doesn’t appear until 1913. The sites are as follows:

    Furze Covert – NZ 58225 04670
    Alcock’s Covert – NZ 57807 04960
    Boye’s Covert – NZ 56869 06217 & 56972 06241
    Thistle Covert – NZ 59022 05229

    Thistle Covert has been felled and the stone no longer exists but there are oaks on the line of the old covert boundary. A stone is still shown in Furze Covert on the modern 1:10,000 map and the Boyes Covert stone is on the 1991 map but it’s worth noting that the Sunny Bank stone appears on none of these maps so all barring Thistle Covert may still exist.

    If there are oaks then they’d be at least 124 years old and therefore about 9ft in circumference.


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