Hereford & Worcester

Fire destroys 500-year-old Whiteleaved Oak on Malvern Hills

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Media captionFire destroys 500-year-old 'magnificent' Malvern oak

An oak tree thought to be about 500 years old has been destroyed in a fire.

Known as the Whiteleaved Oak, the tree stood in a village of the same name on the Malvern Hills.

Thought to have spiritual significance by druids and pagans, it attracted visitors from around the world.

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service said the cause of the fire was currently unknown, but suggested it bore similarities to blazes started by camp fires.

Chief Druid King Arthur Pendragon said: "We, druids and pagans, feel that we are here as part of nature, not apart from nature.

"To see something like this happen to something that we revere, something that is so close to us spiritually, is very upsetting indeed."

It is unclear who has responsibility for the tree, which was a finalist in the 2014 Woodland Trust's Tree of the Year competition.

Image copyright Ledbury Fire Station
Image caption Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service said the cause of the fire is unknown
Image copyright Ledbury Fire Station
Image caption The tree is thought to have spiritual significance by Druids and Pagans

Ledbury Fire Station said "great efforts" went into saving the tree which caught fire at about 23:30 BST on Sunday.

The fire station said on Facebook: "The tree was well alight when we attended and unfortunately it was not possible to extinguish quickly."

The oak was "once magnificent" and "very well known", it added.

Dave Throup, from the Environment Agency said the tree was of "considerable historic and cultural significance".

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