More than just Christmas trees
Chopwell Wood is so many things to so many people; great mountain bike tracks for the fearless, almost unlimited walk routes, a great place to run wild with the kids or somewhere to take the family and choose a Christmas tree.
But did you know the woodland has provided much more than this in the past? At 650 hectares, it is about the same size now as it was during the Roman era 2,000 years ago and the name is thought to derive from Ceoppa, a Saxon Chieftain who lived in the area.
Timber from the woodland has been used in building projects across the region, at Bamburgh, Dunstanburgh and Norham Castles, Berwick pier and even the Tyne Bridge. But perhaps the most significant use was by order of King Charles I to build the Sovereign of the Seas in 1635. 2,500 trees from Chopwell went into this massive scheme, to build a three decked ship which was the most extravagantly decorated warship in the Royal Navy.
School children from Washingwell Primary School have now brought this fascinating story to life with a model of Sovereign of the Seas which is on view in our Heritage Centre. Their model includes golden decorations, representing the gilded carvings which adorned the ship from stern to bow. These no doubt contributed to the huge cost of the build, £65,586 (more than £10½ million in today’s money) which helped to create the financial crisis for Charles I that contributed to the English Civil War.