A 500-year-old tree which attracted visitors from all around the world has been destroyed by fire.

The Whiteleaved Oak, based in a valley between Chase End Hill and Ragged Stone Hill at the southern end of the Malvern Hills, was "well alight" on Sunday evening.

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service was called to the tree fire, near Eastnor on the Herefordshire-Worcestershire border, but nothing could be done to save the tree.

"It is with great sadness we report that at approximately 11.30pm on Sunday night, Ledbury Fire Station attended a tree fire in Eastnor near Eastnor Castle," a spokesperson for Ledbury Fire Station said.

"The tree was well alight when we attended and unfortunately it was not possible to extinguish quickly. Great efforts were made by the crew from Ledbury and also by a crew from Upton fire station.

"The crews ran out hose approximately 120 metres and used an appliance to shuttle water to and from the incident all through the night. Foam was also used to blanket the tree in great efforts to save it.

"This once magnificent tree in question is a very well known and admired tree called The Whiteleaved Oak. I am lead to believe this tree is visited by people from all over the world and plays a large part in the rituals of Druids.

"The Whiteleaved Oak is thought to be around 500 years old and is featured on many websites and books.

"The cause of the fire is unknown, however please be careful when visiting the countryside, especially when visiting somewhere that is as sacred or precious to many people."

In 2014, Brian Haynes, who has lived in the hamlet of Whiteleaved Oak for 30 years, nominated the tree in a Woodland Trust competition to find the "tree of the year".

Mr Haynes said at the time: "I nominated the tree because it is very special, but also because of all the people it attracts. The tree has been venerated by spiritual devotees over time from all over the world.

"Druids and dowsers, witches, Pagans, Rainbow Warriors, north American Indians, Extra Terrestrial Ambassadors from London hoping to attract flying saucers and Mayan astrologers are just some of the people who have visited the tree over the years."

Mr Haynes has written a book about the tree and the tales associated with it, and he says it deserves to be crowned Tree of the Year.