The National Trust information board tells us
“If you had been standing here before 5th May 2004, your view of the river would have been framed by the branches of an oak tree. A very old oak tree that had been on this spot long before the first Cliveden mansion was bult here in 1666. The oak was known as the Canning oak, after George Canning, who was Prime Minister for the shortest time of any Prime Minister, just 119 days back in 1827. He is reported to have said “I can prove anything by statistics, except the truth!” George Canning was a regular visitor to Cliveden and a great friend of Sir George Warrender who owned the property from 1824 to 1849. Canning apparently spent many hours sitting under the tree completely mesmerised by this incredible view of the Thames.
The tree’s position on the edge of the cliff became more and more precarious. We tried desperately over the years to support it with large wooden props. Unfortunately, the severe weather in 2004 took its toll and Cliveden’s oldest inhabitant finally succumbed and collapsed. Now resting, like a fallen giant, it will become home to countless generations of wildlife.”