Milton Keynes is known as the city of trees, despite being one of the UK’s most successful purpose built towns it has retained as much of the local greenery as possible.
In Newlands, opposite Willen Lake stands Milton Keynes cathedral it’s a little unconventional; it’s made out of trees.
The outline of the cathedral is based on Norwich Cathedral and was designed in 1986 by landscape architect Neil Higson.
Different species of trees were used to represent the character of each of the cathedrals sections: Hornbeam and tall-growing lime for the nave, evergreens to represent the central tower and spires, flowering cherry and apple as a focus in the chapels.
In the spring a wide range of colourful bulbs appear, these were put in to represent the sun shining through stained glass windows on the ground.
A poem by Steve Clark celebrates this unusual city feature.
Cathedral of trees
Among the arches of oak and yew,
Grown great on rain and dew,
I sense a lesson to be learned.
The northern wind in branch and bow,
Gives ministry to fawn and sow,
A quantum peace that I’ve not heard.
No font to wash away my sins,
But a rambling brook, who’s tumbling din,
Tells tales in tones of clarity and purity.
No stained glass here, depicts a life,
Of servitude and mortal strife,
First taken then risen to infinity.
Each branch it seems, a crafted beam,
Where prayers, the carriers of dreams,
Pass between, with no account of whispered secrets, not for all.
The leaves that gently kiss my feet,
Demand no thought for their upkeep,
But lie again anew each autumn fall.
The catacombs, silent below,
Are tended to by shrew and vole,
Who’s work I’ll never know, dutiful and patient.
Something else I never knew,
The tree that fell and is my pew,
Gave up itself, so I could sit in quiet contemplation.
Would man make such sacrifice,
That I find peace, give up a life,
When suddenly I laugh, I see it all.
My being here is meant to be,
This great design, is mine to see,
It brings me gently to my knees.
For here is God,
In his Cathedral of trees.