Wakefield prison’s Mulberry bush to be replaced

The Mulberry bush at HMP Prison Wakefield.
The Mulberry bush at HMP Prison Wakefield.

A 19th century mulberry bush thought to have inspired a nursery rhyme has been removed from HMP Wakefield.

The mulberry bush died in 2017, a year after it was nominated for a Woodland Trust tree of the year award.

Wakefield Prison.

Wakefield Prison.

The tree is now set to be replaced using a cutting taken from the original plant 30 years ago.

MORE: Mulberry bush removed from Wakefield prison
It it believed to have inspired the nursery rhyme Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush.

Women prisoners used to dance around the tree with their children, and invented the rhyme to keep the children amused.

Prison officer Simon Richardson, who helped to remove the dead tree, said: “It became a project because the mulberry is so important to Wakefield prison, it’s instrumental in the place, everything revolves around it. Unfortunately it’s dead, but the aim is to replace it – we’ll have one here where the original was and possibly another one at the other end of the jail so everyone can see it.”

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He added: “I was very apprehensive coming to work this morning because it’s part of history and the jail, it’s something to be proud of.”

HMP Wakefield was built as house of correction in 1594 and in later years female prisoners were said to have danced around the tree,

Another possible interpretation of the nursery rhyme is that “cold and frosty” Britain struggles to produce silk, with mulberry trees a key habitat for the cultivation of silkworms.

The prison’s staff diner is called The Mulberry and the HMP Wakefield’s crest includes an image of the bush.

The rhyme was first recorded by James Orchard Halliwell as an English children’s game in the mid-19th century.

In 2016 a tree recorder suggested mulberry trees – including the one in Wakefield prison – had links to James I.

It was believed the king had sent out hundreds of mulberry saplings to estate owners in 1609.