In front of Noordeinde Palace is a striking, monumental tree surrounded by a white bench. This tree was planted in 1880. It is a horse chestnut that with its beautiful broad crown has provided shade and greenery on this square for years.
Where the Post Stamp Tree now stands, there was once a gallery in neo-Gothic style. King Willem II had it built in 1848, right opposite Noordeinde Palace. Who's to say what it was, but the gallery was about to collapse again more than 30 years later and was torn down. What remained was an empty square. An excellent place for this chestnut to grow into a whopper.
The Stamp Tree got its name because stamps have been sold and exchanged under and around the tree for years. Even before the war this happened under the foliage of the horse chestnut, usually on Wednesdays and Saturdays. When the barrel was a bit in place, as many as a hundred philatelists at once could crowd around the tree to make their move.
The tree that is now so resplendent has also seen hard times. Of course we see the large crown, but to get that big, a tree also needs a lot of space under the ground. In the 1930s, the root system could no longer expand because the foundation of the Gothic Hall on the other side of Noordeinde Palace was in the way. And while the economy was at an all-time low, importance was placed on the horse chestnut and the shovel went into the ground to clear the edges of the foundation and give the tree space.
Today horse chestnuts are struggling. There is a bleeding disease that has already made many victims under the trees in The Hague. The Stamp Tree is being pampered to prevent the same fate from befalling this giant. According to tradition, Princess Beatrix personally ensured that this tree would be protected against the disease, as far as possible. Perhaps also because the tree is holding the bronze statue of her grandmother Wilhelmina, which Charlotte van Pallandt made in 1968.
Another Hundreds of Years
The Post Stamp Tree, together with 799 other chestnuts, is part of a program that is investigating how to keep the bleeding chestnut disease under control. For example, by injecting a certain type of compost into the soil to make the tree more resistant to the bacteria that causes the disease. The volunteer organization Elementree is also working with biological and homeopathic remedies to strengthen the tree. Of course, the whole of The Hague and its environs hopes that the Stamp Tree will remain there for hundreds of years and that many royal and ordinary mortals will continue to pass through Noordeinde.