Tree cathedrals sprout across the world

By Duncan Geere
While Stephen Hawking is busy denying God’s role in the creation of the Universe, horticulturalists across the world are building enormous cathedrals out of trees, using hazel, beech, fir and chestnut to form living arches.

The “Green Cathedral” is located in Italy, on the slopes of the Arera mountain near the northern city of Bergamo. It was designed by Giuliano Mauri, a natural architect who died in May 2009. The structure was his last work, to signify the International Year of Biodiversity, and has just been completed.

It stands 21 metres tall, with five aisles and 42 columns. It’s 28.5 metres long and 24 metres wide, and has been built from 1800 firs, 600 chestnut branches and 6000 metres of hazel branch that’s been weaved into the design. 42 beeches have been planted inside, which will grow over time to provide the roof to the structure, which remains open to the rain for the time being.

In New Hampshire, in the United States, the “Cathedral of the Pines” is an interfaith worship centre which was founded back in 1945 by Sibyl and Douglas Sloane as a memorial to those who lost their lives in World War II. It’s open each year between May and October, and regularly hosts services from different religions, as well as lectures on sustainability and the environment. It was damaged in an ice storm in 2008, but is asking for donations to pay off the loans used to reconstruct the site.

Closer to home, Milton Keynes near London is the proud owner of the “Cathedral of Trees”. Designed in 1986 by landscape architect Neil Higson, it’s based on the design of Norwich Cathedral, and is comprised of hornbeam and lime for the Nave, evergreens to represent the central spires and flowering cherry and apple trees for the chapels.

Finally, Whipsnade in Bedfordshire has its own “Whipsnade Tree Cathedral”, which spans nine and a half acres and contains chapels meant for each of the four seasons. It was planted in 1932 by a soldier, Edmond Blyth, as an act of “faith, hope and reconciliation” following the First World War and an inspirational visit to Liverpool Cathedral. The site is now owned by the National Trust, and services are held there by many different religions.

Have I missed any? Is there a cathedral made from trees near you that I haven’t mentioned above? Tell us the full details in the comments below.

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