A HISTORY group are set to welcome a critically acclaimed local author for a talk which delves into the history of an 800-year-old Oak Tree.

The Halstead 21st Century Group will welcome author James Canton next week.

Dr Canton, who is a senior lecturer at the University of Essex, will be reflecting back on two years spent beneath the 800-year-old Honywood Oak.

The writer perched himself under the oak, which stands on the Markshall Estate between Earls Colne and Coggeshall for long periods and in all weather conditions and keeping diary entries of his experience.

Dr Canton also visited oaks across the UK to explore our long cultural fascination with them.

This led him to write The Oak Papers, published in July 2020, to critical acclaim and serialised by Radio 4 last autumn.

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The talk will be based on the history of the Honywood Oak, the writing of The Oak Papers, include other fine oaks in the local area and cover recent research into ancient green and religious spaces in the region, such as the Alphamstone and Great Maplestead Churches.

A Q&A session will follow with the chance to put your own questions to Dr Canton.

After the talk there will be an opportunity to buy copies of The Oak Papers and talk to members of Halstead 21st Century Group about their work

Eileen Penn, chair of Halstead 21st Century Group, the talk’s organisers and a heritage charity, said: “According to the National Trust one ancient oak has more biodiversity than a thousand 100-year-old oaks and we feel very privileged that Dr Canton is helping us to promote our trees and our local landscapes.”

The talk coincides with the end of the group’s Readiness & Resilience Project, a 15-month scheme to promote and preserve Halstead’s historic assets and green spaces.

The National Lottery Heritage funded the project - including this concluding event.

The talk will be on Wednesday, November 17 at the Empire Theatre in Halstead.

Doors open at 7pm and it will start at 7.30pm.

Attendees are asked to book seats by email to info@halstead21stcentury.org.uk or by telephone to 07842907501.