Living memorial to commemorate Erpingham battle

Members of Erpingham community are planting 600 trees from the Woodland Trust to mark the battle of

Members of Erpingham community are planting 600 trees from the Woodland Trust to mark the battle of Agincourt in which local noble man Sir Thomas Erpingham played a prominent part in. Pictured is Keith Harrison and Bob Rogers with some of the trees to be planted and other members of the village and landowners where the trees will be planted. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

They were the 'happy few, we band of brothers' immortalised by Shakespeare.

Now a living memorial is being created to the heroic knight who helped lead Henry V's forces to victory at Agincourt at the north Norfolk village that bears his name.

Sir Thomas Erpingham played a key part, organising and commanding the English archers, against the French at the battle in 1415. To commemorate the 600th anniversary of the epic battle, 600 oak saplings are being planted at Erpingham near Aylsham.

The trees have been provided by the Woodland Trust, raised from acorns gathered from oaks, which would have been growing at the time of Agincourt.

And a team of volunteers, led by villager John Sizeland, have been creating the green memorial.

Mr Sizeland said: 'The oak tree is... an iconic sight around our farmland and countryside. We hope that by planting new trees, the village will benefit for years into the future; and we will rest assured that, as older trees are lost, new oaks will take their place.'

He added: 'Sir Thomas Erpingham was a great character of English history. It is fitting that, as he expanded the church tower at St Mary's to survey his land, the oaks should be planted in the village to mark his achievements here and at Agincourt.'

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The saplings have been planted alongside roads leading into Erpingham that will grow into avenues of trees.

One of the most notable Battle of the Hundred Years War, Agincourt was fought in October 1415, when an exhausted and outnumbered English army defeated a much larger French force. Described by Shakespeare as a 'good old knight', Sir Thomas was 58 at the time of the battle.

An influential local benefactor he funded the re-building of St Andrew's and Blackfriars Hall in Norwich.

Sir Thomas's lasting architectural legacy, The Erpingham Gate, the entrance to the Cathedral Close, was commissioned in the early 1420s as a personal monument.