Storms have ripped a possibly centuries old beech tree from the ground in a Leek Wootton churchyard, which could cost thousands of pounds to put right.
The 20 metre high tree is thought to be older than the church itself and “luckily” hurt no one when it fell during strong winds last Saturday.
Despite only severely damaging one headstone on its way down, the fall will prove costly for the church which must now get experts in to remove the huge trunk.
Rev Jim Perryman from All Saints’ church explained that due to its “substantial size” they are looking at a four figure sum for the work -but that things could have been a lot worse. “Some gravestones were damaged and pulled up but only one has been cracked completely,” he explained.
“It did relatively little damage, and in that respect we have been very fortunate. But we will not know for sure until we can remove the trunk.”
The two-metre-thick tree fell across the path, and it is expected that all fallen headstones can be put back without any lasting damage.
Rev Perryman said there was never a threat to the main church building or house because of the tree’s position.
“This tree is thought to be even older than the church building which makes it quite a size,” he said.
“This unfortunately means it will be an expensive job to have it removed and we are now looking at options.
“We have cleared everything we can with the help of villagers, but what’s left is so large it needs to be dealt with professionally.
“You can see the size by the root ball which weighs around seven tonnes. This is huge so this will be a big job.”
Fundraising will now begin to pay for the removal of the huge log and everyone who has helped remove branches and clear the path has been thanked for their efforts.
The present church was built in 1790 and improvements, rebuilds and extensions have been ongoing almost constantly over the past two hundred years.