THE remains of an iconic 300-year-old tree, which disappeared from a Wanstead green, have been taken into care.

Residents contacted the Guardian to report the disappearance of the sweet chestnut tree which was originally torn down during the construction of the M11 Link Road.

The City of London Corporation is responsible for its removal and not Redbridge Council as some Guardian readers believed.

A spokesman for the corporation, which owns the George Green land, said: "This much loved tree has been deteriorating rapidly so we took it into protective care on Monday.

"I'm sorry we did not tell more people but the tree is safely in store with us while we preserve the wood.

"We'll definitely let local residents know through the press once we have found a solution and can bring it back, after treatment."

The remains of the tree had been lying on the land, opposite Wanstead Tube station, since it was felled in 1993 after its trunk caved in.

The tree was famously occupied by protesters who tried to block the link road, and its final demise was covered by national press and TV news.

A proposal to turn part of the chestnut into a sculpture or bench in the grounds of the Corner House (now the Allan Burgess Centre) in Grove Park, along with a plaque commemorating the struggle against the road were put forward by campaigners in January 2009 - but its dilapidated shell remained more than a year later.

Jack Figg, a member of the Wanstead Society, said: "It was a monument in a way so it's a bit sneaky really.

"But it's almost too good to be believed, it's rather nice and good news."

Doreen Jenkinson, 65, of Sydney Road, Wanstead, said: "It is very important that it's kept, it is not just a tree, a whole event happened round that tree that went right round the world.

"It acted as a catalyst for environmental awareness, it was such a massie event the Museum of London keep records about the M11 campaign.

"The tree shold never be destroyed, it's part of history and I hope to see it back soon.

"One of the campaigners who died about two years ago had her ashes scattered in the tree and it being removed upset a lot of people."