Theo Brown, Devon Ghosts Jarrold, , Ainsworth apparently based the haunted beech on a real tree: but whether the tradition of it being haunted was real or invented is unknown. Those who saw the performance went away with the impression that this was the true oak of Herne… I suggest this not as a serious hypothesis, but to drive home the point that a dual tradition could have been very old. The Prussians did not know it but they may have been standing not just before a legendary oak, but at the site of the first performance of The Merry Wives. Obviously neither tree survives but we have many etchings and sketches.
Herne the Hunter and the Green Man | SpringerLink
We only know that the first thing they asked to see the morning after their arrival was not the plate, or paintings or other royal treasures. What matters for present purposes is that intelligent and honest people found themselves on different sides of the debate, including some from a quite humble background. There certainly were two opinions respecting the identity of the tree It would be interesting to establish our earliest written source as opposed to a map to the tree post Shakespeare. But that, after all, is why he came to the attention of Elizabeth or Shakespeare. By Brittani Avalon. For a period, Herne the Hunter contended for this position.