Next meeting: The Mulberry Tree, by Dr Peter Coles, at Charlton House, Charlton Village SE7 8RE, Saturday 14th December at 2.30pm

The impressively gnarled black mulberry tree in the grounds of Charlton House is purportedly 400 years old, making it one of the oldest trees in London and is a must-see.

The tree was selected as one of the 50 Great British Trees by the Tree Council in 2002.

Few trees have had a greater impact on the world’s culture than the mulberry, it is the sole food of the silkworm, and the bark was used to make the first paper. The medicinal properties of all parts of the tree are well established making it a tree of choice for medieval monastery gardens.

Peter Coles is an expert on the subject and is a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Urban and Community Research at Goldsmiths and is a science writer, fine art photographer and translator.