Priestfield Arboretum takes its name from the founder, Thomas Priest, who, in 1917, began planting in the former orchard and kitchen garden acquired after the sale of Harewood Estate.
The Arboretum seems to have been a labour of love to him, and he planted over 400 trees, mostly conifers, before his death in 1942. The following year it was sold to Marcel Porn and remains in the ownership of his family.
After falling into disrepair a massive scrub clearance was undertaken in 1983 by the Chiltern Small Woodlands Group. A volunteer group, the Friends of Priestfield, was formed by local enthusiast Merelene Davis, who produced a guidebook to the collection.
With the owners permission, the Friends now undertake continued maintenance & replanting, and have added over 100 specimen trees to the 90 original plantings remaining when they first became involved. The collection now has a representative of every conifer genus that will grow in Britain. Open Days with guided tours by the Friends are held in May & October.
Hear an interview that Barbara Rippington, former Curator of Priestfield, gave to Chris Phillips of Wycombe Sound Radio on April 20 2018, describing the history of the Arboretum (about 12 minutes, 13.4 MB download).