An oak deeply rooted in the history of the Scouting movement has been crowned the UK's tree of the year.

The Gilwell Oak, which sits in the heart of Gilwell Park, near Chingford in Epping Forest, saw off competition from across the country to win the coveted prize handed out annually by the Woodland Trust.

Scout Association founder Robert Baden-Powell championed the tree in 1929 as a metaphor for the growth of the youth organisation.

It was eulogised as a lesson to young scouts that big things are possible from modest beginnings, according to the group.

Chief scout Bear Grylls hailed the victorious oak as an "unbending symbol" of the Scouts' desire to "change the world for the better".

The oak first triumphed in the English tree of the year category, gaining 26 per cent of the 7,000 public votes cast, before it was chosen as the UK’s overall winner by a panel of experts.

It will now serve as the UK's candidate for the European Tree of the Year contest, due to be held in 2018.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

The tree is a symbol of the Scouting movement (pic: PA Wire)

Mr Grylls said: "The Gilwell Oak has been the backdrop to hundreds of courses in which thousands of volunteer leaders have been inspired and motivated to change young people's lives in the UK and across the world.

"It's the unbending symbol of Scouting's desire to change the world for the better."

Although the Gilwell Oak's may be best known for its association with the Scouts, it may also have a shadier connections.

Dick Turpin, the notorious 18th Century highwayman, is claimed to have sheltered beneath the tree's branches as he prepared to ambush stagecoaches.

Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust chief executive, said: "Our competition aims to highlight and celebrate our country's remarkable trees, and to ultimately ensure they are given the recognition and protection they deserve.

"The passion shown by the people who nominated trees, and the way the public get behind them in the voting process shows how much of an inspiration trees are to people."