Clergyman Dennis Brett is appealing for contributions from the community, after a massive tree in St John’s Churchyard, Warminster, came down in violent winds.

Witnesses saw the tree topple on to about 100 gravestones last Wednesday, at 4.20pm, exposing the roots.

Nobody was hurt and damage to the gravestones is minimal. Work has begun to clear the tree, but is likely to cost in excess of £4,000.

It is believed the tree, a Bhutan pine, has stood on the spot since the church was built, nearly 150 years ago. It is referred to by the Rev Denis Brett as The Trinity, due to the shape of its branches.

Mr Brett said: “I was grateful no one was injured, as it’s a colossal tree. If it had fallen the other way, onto the road, it could have been a lot worse.

“Cars park all the way along Boreham Road and it was just after children would have been walking home, so we were blessed it didn’t cause more serious damage.

“The scene was one of devastation. It did look like it had caused a lot of damage to headstones, but after we started to clear it there surprisingly wasn’t that much.

“It’s remarkable really and the hand of God is somewhere in the midst of it all. It is terribly sad that the tree has fallen, as it has been with the church from the start and brides would always sit under it for pictures.”

Mr Brett said while the damage was minimal, the cost of removing the tree was great. He is appealing for donations.

He added: “We have asked to keep part of the trunk and we intend on getting a local carpenter to carve it into a bench that can take the place of the tree, so brides can sit on the tree once again.”

Cheques – payable to PCC Bishopstrow and Boreham – can be sent to 50 Gipsy Lane, Warminster, BA12 9LR.