According to legend, Saint Joseph travelled to the spot after Christ was crucified, taking with him the Holy Grail of Arthurian folklore.
He is said to have stuck his wooden staff – which had belonged to Jesus – into the ground on Wearyall Hill before he went to sleep. When he awoke it had sprouted into a thorn tree, which became a natural shrine for Christians across Europe.
To add to its sacred status, the tree ‘miraculously’ flowered twice a year – once at Christmas and once at Easter. It survived for hundreds of years before it was chopped down by puritans in the Civil War, but secret cuttings of the original were taken and planted around the town.
It is from one of the new plants that a replacement tree was planted in the original spot over 50 years ago.