There really is just no reason for this. Fortunately the tree will recover, though it could take a decade.
"Legend has it that the rare thorn tree on a hill in southern England had ties to the earliest days of Christianity, and pilgrims often left offerings at its base. In more recent times, local children honored its current incarnation each year by cutting sprigs to place on Queen Elizabeth II's Christmas dining table.
Now British police want to know who sawed the limbs off the Glastonbury Holy Thorn Tree, reducing it to a stump. And they want to know why.
Katherine Gorbing, the director of Glastonbury Abbey, said the tree originally came from the Middle East and is a type of thorn tree common in Lebanon as well as in Europe. It typically lives about 100 years, but Gorbing said locals have kept Glastonbury Holy Thorn Tree going by taking grafts and clippings from it to plant new trees when the existing one neared the end of its natural life.
"It's a sacred tree," she said. "Not only for the Christian church, but for many other people."
Coles said the nighttime attack came between Wednesday and Thursday shortly after he, the local vicar and schoolchildren participated in the annual sprig cutting for the queen's Christmas table.
Local historians said the tree — or one of its ancestors — has been chopped down at least once before, by a soldier using an ax during the 1642-51 English Civil Wars.
Experts say the tree could recover in about 10 years if it was in good health at the time of the attack.
"It will obviously be deformed, but it will put grafts out next spring," said Tony Kirkham, head of the arboretum at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. "But it will take a long time to make a good tree.""