STAFF and children at a nursery are devastated after its playhouse was burnt to the ground in a suspected arson attack.

The small wooden building, at Chase Lane Primary School in York Road, Chingford, contained toys, children's artwork and photos - which were also all completely destroyed in the fire.

It happened on Thursday evening (November 22) just after 8pm.

The blaze was so fierce it damaged other equipment in the playground and several trees in Chase Lane Park next door.

Nursery co-ordinator Julie Field said: "It's really upsetting for everyone.

"The playhouse has been there for years and it forms an integral part of the children's daily routine.

"It's turned into a Santa's Grotto at Christmas and the children turn it into other things like a fairy's castle. They love it. To have it snatched away is just awful."

Ms Field and the school's headteacher closed the nursery on Friday to both clear away the debris and protect the children from seeing the charred remains of their much-loved little house.

"There's a real sense of loss among staff but also anger at how somebody could do something like this," added Ms Field.

"Even the older children who are no longer at the nursery have fond memories of playing there and are very upset.

"There's nothing flammable in there, we don't know if it was started with the deliberate intention of burning down the playhouse or if someone lit a small fire which got out of control.

"It's going to cost a lot of money to replace but what's irreplaceable and most sad is all the art work and photos of the children with their families which was inside."

A police spokeswoman said: "Police are investigating the matter as arson.

"No arrests have been made."

Those with information can call police on 101.

The Guardian is awaiting further details from the London Fire Brigade.