Painting immortalises the Scarva tree where King William rested

Billy Austin's watercolour painting of the famous tree within Scarva Demesne
Billy Austin's watercolour painting of the famous tree within Scarva Demesne
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The tree where King William tethered his horse on the way to the Battle of the Boyne has been immortalised in a work of art to celebrate the centenary of the preceptory which organises Scarva’s Sham Fight.

The chestnut tree has stood in Scarva Demesne since before 1690, but in recent years parts of it started to die.

A painting of the tree was commissioned as a gesture to mark the centenary of Sir Knight Alfred Buller Memorial RBP 1000 who own the Orange Hall which stands in front of the demesne, and as a way of preserving the memory of the tree before it is cut back.

King William tied his horse to the chestnut tree when his troops rested there on the way to the Battle of the Boyne.

RPB 1000 member John Adair, who plays King William during the Sham Fight, said: “We know it was there in 1690 and I’m sure it was there a good bit before that. King William wouldn’t have tied his horse to a sapling.”

The watercolour painting of the famous tree was done by Billy Austin, a prolific painter from Portadown who is now in his eightieth year.

John Adair (King William) Colin Cairns (King James) with Sovereign Grand Master of the Royal Black Institution, Rev William Anderson and David Livingstone, County Armagh Grand Master and Imperial Grand Treasurer.' Picture by Arthur Allison/Pacemaker

John Adair (King William) Colin Cairns (King James) with Sovereign Grand Master of the Royal Black Institution, Rev William Anderson and David Livingstone, County Armagh Grand Master and Imperial Grand Treasurer.' Picture by Arthur Allison/Pacemaker

John said: “We had some pictures of the tree taken when we were planting the new trees. We asked Billy if he’d do us a painting of the tree. He had it ready in about 10 days.

“This is probably the last time you’ll see it in that format. It’s due a big pruning session.”

Sandy Heak, a former worshipful master of RBP 1000, said: “It’s only been the last couple of years that life has left the main part of the tree, but then we’ve had a couple of big storms in the last few years that have claimed a bit of it as well.

“A lot of the big branches will be coming down before they fall.

“The good news is if you go round to the far side of it there’s new life coming.”

A limited run of 100 large prints will be sold of the watercolour painting of the tree.

John said: “Because it’s for the centenary we’re only doing 100. When they’re gone they’re gone.”

The preceptory did not rule out selling off parts of the historic tree as souvenirs.

Last month the old tree was joined by two new recruits, both Spanish chestnuts like their forefather, which were planted to mark RBP 1000’s centenary and as a tribute to past members.

To mark its centenary members of RBP 1000 will be given the honour of leading the main parade in Scarva on the Thirteenth.