[Originally published in March 2011]
Hidden in the leafy suburbs of London lie mystical secrets, power places and schools of magic. Why not go visit London’s Oldest Living Resident?
London is a mega metropolis with over eight million inhabitants and the grandest of buildings and architecture, but it is also blessed with great parks and outdoor spaces such as Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath and centuries of historical legacy. Discover the secrets of a school of wizardry, hidden woodlands and ancient churches on this tour of spiritual places in both celebrated sites and anonymous suburb. In the first of a series of articles about power places in London, we meet London’s Oldest Living Resident…
Totteridge Common is an expanse of open land separating North London from the mini conurbations of South Hertfordshire. It’s speckled with lavish mansions that have housed Premier League footballers and visiting A-list celebrities while working at the nearby Elstree studios.
However, not all the salubrious residents of this parish can be found in the pages of Hello! Magazine. London’s oldest resident is believed to live in the local churchyard. Estimated at over 2000 years’ old, a gigantic Yew tree sits in front of the parish church of St Andrew’s. The tree predated the 18th Century Church by many years. Records show that it was measured at 25ft wide by Sir John Cullum in 1677.
Journeys with the Yew
The location is not serene, the busy Totteridge Lane bends just a few metres away. However, the Yew commands a very deep sense of being drawn back into the earth. It is tempting to climb right into its hollow middle to be held by the powerful energy, though this is not advised. Yew trees have long been associated with churchyards in native British traditions. As they are so long lived, they are said to straddle the pathway between life and death and between darkness and light.
All parts of the Yew tree are said to have medicinal properties, with some parts of the yew tree even being used in cancer treatment. However, much of the tree is poisonous. confirming the yew’s place at the door of life and death. Ancient Celtic shamans are said to have meditated under Yew trees at hot times of year to get high on the vapours and perform their visionary and healing work.
Even if not intoxicated on mysterious vapours, the tree is a beautiful place to visit and the cemetery to the back of the church is also a sacred place to visit and to take in view of Totteridge Common.
Nearest tube: Totteridge and Whetstone (1.2 miles); Bus: 251; Address: St Andrew’s, Totteridge, N20 8PR
Travel between 2004 and present.