A Woodland Bookshop: Why do you often find yew trees that are older than the churches they grow next to ? Well it may have a lot to do with Pope Gregory the Great (c. 540 – 12 March 604) who wrote to the newly founded mission in Canterbury, England telling them not to destroy the ancient pagan shrines and holy places but rather to adopt them and erect altars. Hence the preponderance of yew trees that predate British churches the length and breadth of the country. The yew was/is of course revered by pagans as an evergreen............and what about pagan wells for that matter....what do you suppose happened to them ?!