I came across one of those odd connections the other day that links Bishop Burton to interesting features of our national "culture". The connection begins with the marriage of Alvery Hall Watt to Angela Leyland in 1923. Alvery Hall Watt was effectively the last lord of the manor of Bishop Burton to belong to the Watt family that had held the stewardship of the manor for several hundred years.

Angela was the daughter of Christopher John Naylor who lived in Haggerston Castle near Berwick, Northumberland. Christopher changed his surname to Leyland when he inherited the Leyland Estate from his uncle, Thomas Leyland, nee Naylor in the late 19th century. Christopher had been brought up at Leighton Hall near Welshpool in Powys, Wales and was in fact due to inherit that estate before the Leyland estate came along. Leighton went instead to his younger brother, John Naylor, and Christopher moved to Haggerston Hall.

Leighton Hall is notable for the accidental cross-pollination that occurred in 1888 between a Monterey Cypress and a Nootka Cypress which happened to be planted near to each other at the Hall. In the wild they are separated by several thousand miles on the West Pacific coast. The new Cypress was named  "Leylandii" by John Naylor in honour of the Leyland family. The Leyland Cypress came to dominate the British suburban landscape and there are of course many specimens in our village - love them or hate them!

As a hybrid, these novel Leyland Cypress were sterile so most of the trees we now see have resulted from cuttings originating from the few plants that grew initally at Leighton Hall. Christopher continued to develop the hybrid after moving to Haggerston and several varieties bear the name of the castle in which he lived.

For more information on how the cross-pollination occurred visit this page web site of the Royal Forestry Society at http://www.rfs.org.uk/learning/leyland-cypress