Table for the Nation – Rochester Cathedral

14th March 2023

Rochester Cathedral is hosting the Table For The Nation – the 42ft-long table made from fossilised wood dating back 5,000 years made to commemorate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee last year.

Rochester Cathedral hosts the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Table for the Nation

Carved from a piece of Fenland Black Oak, Rochester Cathedral is keen to see the table used for the purpose it was created – a place for people to gather – and is urging anyone with any ideas for its use to get in touch.

This giant black oak was found in a field in Wissington Fen, East Anglia in 2012, the late Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The 13.2m long section of the tree was discovered deep in the peat, having laid undisturbed for 5,000 years. It is believed it would have been more than 180ft tall when it was thriving in comparison to present-day oaks which stand at around 65ft tall.

Black oak is the nation’s rarest and most precious hardwood. It was decided that this incredible discovery needed to be preserved for future generations. Over ten years a team of privately funded specialist craftspeople created this sculptured table known as the Jubilee Oak Table. It was completed and unveiled in 2022, the year of HM the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The table was dedicated to HM the Queen and is a “Table for the Nation.”

Rochester Cathedral hosts the Queen's Platinum Jubilee Table for the Nation

Dean of Rochester, the Very Rev Dr Philip Hesketh, said:

“It is a real privilege to be hosting the Fenland Black Oak Table. A wonder of creation and the work of some very skilled hands. As the ancient cathedral builders sought to inspire, so this extraordinary table engenders its own sense of awe and gratitude. Not only in the exquisite application of design, imagination, beauty, and perseverance but in the inspiring story that brought this sleeping giant to life bringing people together, once again, around its mighty girth.

“People from different continents have given time, skills, and resources freely in this truly selfless endeavour. Furthermore, it continues to involve people of goodwill.

“The heavenly vision of many nations and peoples gathered around a common table, eating, and drinking in the presence of God is one which at the Cathedral we will aspire to replicate over the coming year as we invite others to share in this remarkable story with genuine thanksgiving.”

Dean Philip, Rochester

Hailed as the Table for the Nation, it will be on show in the nave for a year and Rochester Cathedral is keen to make sure the table does not just become something to look at. They want as many people as possible to use it.

Schools and families will be encouraged to use the table for activities and people will even be able to have dinners on the table if they wish to hire it for the evening.

The public are encouraged to get in touch with the Cathedral if they have ideas of how they would like to use the table.

Read all about the project here or click the image below.

Rochester Cathedral hosts the Queen's Platinum Jubilee Table for the Nation

Photos from the Fenland Black Oak Project.