The journal “Annals of agriculture and other useful arts” carried a series of reports on visits to East Kent, a visit to Fredville on July 6, 1793, was described as follows:
“Call on John Plumtree, Esq. of Fredville, who very politely shews us his famous oak, called Majesty -, measure this tree; 4 feet from the ground the circumference is 31 feet ; it is supposed to contain from 36 to 42 tons of timber. Two branches separated from this tree about four years ago, in a calm day, which contained three tons of timber. Another oak, called Beauty, 14 tons of timber ; girt, 4 feet from the ground, 16 feet 4 inches, is 63 feet high, perfectly straight, and a beauty indeed !—From hence to Denne-Hill (in Womenswold parish).—Much corn, very poor, and full of weeds. See a South Down flock of very inferior kind. Return to Betshanger. Day’s ride 14 miles”.
“But “Majesty”, the most wonderful of all these trees, has, eight feet from the ground, a circumference of twenty-eight feet four inches—and at twenty-eight feet from the ground fifteen feet six inches. It has one arm which contains sixty-eight feet eleven inches— another sixty-four feet two inches—a third, sixty feet nine inches, and several others of nearly equal dimensions. The total contents of thishuge bulk of timber are thirty-six tons twenty-eight feet four inches, bark not included”.
“Majesty, which, as its name denotes, is the largest, is somewhat more than twenty-eight feet in circumference, at eight feet from the ground, and contains above fourteen hundred feet of timber. Stately, the next in point of size, is a noble specimen of the tall oak ; the stem going up straight and clean to the height of seventy feet. The girth, at four feet from the ground, is eighteen feet ; and it contains about five hundred feet of timber. Beauty, at an equal height, is sixteen feet in circumference, and its solid contents are nearly the same. Altogether these three graces of the forest form a group immediately within sight of the house, which, for magnificence and beauty, is not perhaps to be equalled by any other of the same nature ; awakening in the mind of the spectator the most agreeable associations of the freedom and grandeur of woodland scenery, with the security and refinements of cultivated life”.
In 1890 £.100.00 was offered for “Stately” to be felled and used as timber, a huge amount for a tree at this time an agricultural labourer would have earned about £.25 to £.30 a year, but the offer was fortunately declined.
In the mid-1920’s Lillian Boys Behrens wrote that Fredville House had once stood at the end of a long avenue of trees but that at the time of writing only a few oaks remained. She said that two of the largest oaks near to the house known to have been flourishing in 1554 were redorded as “The Ancient Bear’ and ‘King Fredville Oak’ (the later appears to be an alternative name for “Majesty”, and “The Ancient Bear’ for either “Beauty” or “Stately”. Mrs. Boys Behrens also offered her opinion that Fredville’s gardens also contained the finest magnolia tree in England.
“Majesty” had a large bough broken off on its east side in 1924, and has within the last year or so undergone some minor surgery. “Beauty”, “Stately” and another old oak tree known as “Staghorn” are still standing although a bit worse for wear.
‘“Majesty”’ is the largest surviving maiden oak in the United Kingdom and is listed as such in the Guinness Book of Records. Estimates of “Majesty’s” age vary from 450 to 1,000 years old, however if ‘King Fredville Oak’ was the old name for “Majestie” this indicates that the tree was of considerable age in 1554, making the higher estimate the most likely.