The ancient yew tree that was featured in Harry Potter as the meeting place of the Weasley and Diggory families before they take their Portkey to the Quidditch World Cup has collapsed. The tree, located in Frithsden Beeches, part of the National Trust’s Ashridge Estate, is believed to be hundreds of years old and recently broke in half under the strain of its age and weight. According to forester Andrew Simpkins, there were other factors involved in the falling of the tree, including a large amount of aggressive decay fungi and inclement weather.
While many believe the tree to have been featured as the Whomping Willow in the Harry Potter films, this is incorrect. The tree is actually portrayed as one located just beyond the fictional village of Ottery St. Catchpole, near The Burrow. It is where Harry first meets Amos and Cedric Diggory on their way to the Portkey at the top of Stoatshead Hill in order to travel to the Quidditch World Cup.
The distinctively knotted tree was picked out by location managers working on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which was released in 2005 and filmed in 2004. They were looking for a woodland area with “fantastical-looking trees” and decided on Frithsden Beeches. The cast and crew spent two weeks filming on location in the forest under strict guidelines aimed at leaving the area undisturbed. As a result of its role in the movie, the tree earned Ashridge Estate around £50,000 in tourism in 2004.
The tree, which had an impressive span of 25 meters, was adopted in 1988 in an effort to preserve ancient yews by a national conservation campaign. In the tree’s impressive history, it has also been featured in other films including Disney’s recent movie Maleficent, starring Potter‘s own Imelda Staunton, who played Dolores Umbridge in the series.
Now that the tree has fallen, it will be left to decay and complete its natural life cycle while still being monitored by Ashridge Estate staff. Check out the gallery below for images of the tree before and after its collapse.