The Posy Tree
Location: The Posy Tree, Mapperton
Ring a Ring o' Roses
This ancient sycamore tree was planted to commemorate victims of the terrible pestilence that occurred at Mapperton, near Bridport, some four hundred years ago.
Though the Black Death took the lives of twenty-five million Europeans between 1348 and 1351, outbreaks continued to occur in isolated villages, towns and cities throughout England for the next three hundred and eighteen years. It was a common enough practice for the inhabitants of Mapperton to bury their dead at the cemetery of the neighbouring parish of Netherbury. Mapperton's cemetery was deemed unsuitable for burial because the soil was inadequate. In 1582 this routine of burial changed due to the outbreak of bubonic plague at Mapperton. Villagers of Netherbury gathered at the parish boundary refusing to let the residents of Mapperton bury the corpses of plague victims in their cemetery. This resulted in a bitter skirmish between the villagers but after some negotiations, it was agreed that the bodies should remain at the boundary, which the old Mapperton and Netherbury track crosses, now known as Dead Man's Lane.
The sycamore tree known locally as the 'Posy'1 or 'Cosy' Tree , marked the spot where the 80 dead of Mapperton were collected and buried a mile away in a mass grave within a small enclosure on the summit of South Warren Hill. After burial a copse of Beech trees was planted on the site to make sure the area was not disturbed.
Due to its deterioration the 'Posy Tree' was removed because of fears for safety on 7th August 2011. Villagers hope to plant a new 'Posy Tree' for future generations.
1 Posy being the name given to the gathered wild herbs and flowers to ward off the foul odours, which emitted from the corpses of victims carrying the plague)