It's a beloved local landmark and a staple of 'secret London' guidebooks, but are the Hardy Tree's days numbered?
The ash tree, in the gardens around Old St Pancras church, is famous for the ring of gravestones heaped around its base. It has a long association with novelist Thomas Hardy, who helped to clear graves from the churchyard to make way for the railways in 1865. In recent years, the tree has been the subject of a novel, and has even found its way into Atlas Obscura.
But now the Hardy tree may be threatened. According to Camden New Journal, a 'suspicious fungus' has been found among its roots. If left unchecked, the parasitic fungus Perenniporia fraxinea can severely damage its host. Three people were killed in Birmingham in 1999, when a diseased ash toppled onto a road.
Camden Council is not taking any chances. The tree has been cordoned off with a fence — we'd guess at a 10-metre perimeter. You can't get close, although it's still possible to appreciate and get snaps of the tree.
The worrisome fungus is different to the one that causes the dreaded 'ash dieback' disease, which has infected many trees in the south-east and looks poised to cause considerable damage to the country's ash population. Let's hope the Hardy Tree lives up to its name and gets through these tough times.
The news comes at the same time as another famous London tree bites the dust. The great Cedar of Lebanon in Highgate Cemetery was recently felled by tree surgeons over fears of collapse.