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Elfin Oak, London

4.0
#3035 of 3,736 in Things to do in London
The Elfin Oak is the stump of a 900-year-old oak tree in Kensington Gardens in London, carved and painted to look as though elves, gnomes and small animals are living in its bark.The hollow log, donated by Lady Fortescue, originally came from Richmond Park, and was moved to Kensington Gardens in 1928 as part of George Lansbury's scheme of public improvements in London. Over the next two years the illustrator Ivor Innes carved the figures of the "Little People" into it. These included Wookey the witch, with her three jars of health, wealth and happiness, Huckleberry the gnome, carrying a bag of berries up the Gnomes' Stairway to the banquet within Bark Hall, and Grumples and Groodles the Elves being awakened by Brownie, Dinkie, Rumplelocks and Hereandthere stealing eggs from the crows' nest.Innes also illustrated a 1930 children's book written by his wife Elsie and based on the Elfin Oak. In it, Elsie wrote:The inside cover of Pink Floyd's 1969 album Ummagumma features a picture of David Gilmour in front of the Elfin Oak.The comedian Spike Milligan was a lifelong fan of the Oak, and in 1996 he led a successful campaign to have it restored. Spike's contribution as advisor and lending his photographic records of his original restoration in the 1960s was of great value to students from Byam Shaw School of Art,who restored the tree in 1996 led by the artist "Conservator" Marcus Richards. Marcus has continued to be responsible for restoration and maintaining the Oak to the present day. In December 1997 Heritage Minister Tony Banks declared it a Grade II listed structure.
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  • The Elfin Oak is a sculpture made from the hollow trunk of a long dead oak tree. The sculpture is made to look like little treehouse for elves. As part of the sculpture, there's miniature elves and ot...  more »
  • You can get lost watching small carved figures from Ivor Innes, unfortunately because of the usual vandals the trunk is locked in a cage but you still cannot see very well. Typically British is worth a visit
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