An ancient oak tree thought to be almost 500 years old has been subject to a “shocking” arson attack.

Fire crews were called to a section of Epping Forest at Warren Pond, in Barn Hoppitt, Chingford, at around 3pm on Wednesday (September 6).

Crews were able to contain the fire and work by forest keepers means the oak is likely to survive the attack.

The City of London Corporation, which manages the forest, has confirmed the fire is believed to have been started deliberately.

The tree is considered one of the forest’s most important and is thought to be as old, if not older, than the nearby Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge, built on the orders of Henry VIII in 1543.

The oak and its neighbouring trees support a variety of rare insects and fungi in an area of the forest recognised by experts as internationally-important.

A spokesman for the City of London Corporation said: “The tree by Warren Pond is loved by many locals and visitors and we are saddened and shocked by this attack.

“Through the efforts of the London Fire Brigade’s Chingford White Watch Team, assisted by our arborist and forest keeper teams, we were able to control the blaze quickly.

“Our Conservation and Operations teams have inspected the tree and we are glad to report that it will survive.

“We are heartened by the many messages of good wishes that have been flooding in from Forest visitors.”

Epping Forest is home to more than one million trees, including some 50,000 examples of ancient beech, hornbeam and oak.

The woodland, which stretches from Walthamstow to Epping and is the largest green space in London and Essex, has been designated both a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation.

  • Anyone with any information on the arson attack is asked to call the City of London Corporation: 0208 5321010.