One of Devon’s oldest trees, the Lucombe oak, has fallen. Despite only light winds blowing on Sunday night, the tree, which had been ravaged by a fungus for years, came crashing to the ground.

The Lucombe oak was one of the biggest of its kind in the world, with a girth of 26ft, and formed the centrepiece of Phear Park, in Exmouth.

The exact age of the ‘Champion oak’ is unknown, but as the first Lucombe oak was grown by William Lucombe in the 1760s, the tree could be 250 years old. It was donated to the people of Exmouth by the Phear family after the Second World War.

Steve Gazzard, of Exmouth Town Council, used to climb the tree as a child with his brother, Martin. He says: ‘It’s a terrible blow. She really was an old faithful, and we were all looking forward to the coming weeks when she would have looked her best, surrounded by a host of daffodils.’

However, Mr Gazzard hopes that the family line of the tree can continue: ‘Bicton College collected some seeds from her a few years ago, and I am hoping that perhaps offspring could be planted in the park.’

He would also like to see the felled trunk remain in Phear Park as a climbing frame for young people.