In the Barbican is a most curious relic, a stump of a tree which is it claimed, may have regularly shaded the composer Felix Mendelssohn during his frequent visits to where the tree stood.

It’s not local though, as Mendelssohn’s musings took place in Burnham Beeches, out in Buckinghamshire.

However, since 1880, Burnham Beeches has been a remote outpost of the City of London when the City bought it to stop the area from being flattened for housing.

Then in 1990, Mendelssohn’s tree was blown down in a storm, and later a stump of it was bought to the Barbican to put on display as a memorial to the man and the links between the City of London, the Barbican art centre and far-flung Burnham Beeches.

All this is based on the presumption that out of the thousands to choose from, Mendelssohn had one particular favourite which he also told other people about so they would know this is “his tree” – but we’ll gloss over that irritant.

The remains of the tree were put here in Barbican, just across the way from the Barbican tube station in 1993 by the Barbican Horticultural Society, and was unveiled by the conductor, Carl Davies.

Incidentally, there is now a new Mendelssohn Tree growing in Burnham Beeches, which was planted in 2005 to replace the earlier one.


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