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Dame Judi Dench
Photo: Andrea Raffin

Dame Judi Dench is going to save east London’s oldest tree

Developers want to tear it out the ground. The dame says ‘no chance’

By Joe Mackertich
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Britain’s most powerful actor (and noted tree enthusiast) Dame Judi Dench, is not happy. 

The legendary star of countless classic West End productions (as well as some films) has found out about plans to uproot one of London’s oldest trees to make way for flats. The Bethnal Green Mulberry Tree, which is not quite as gnarled and mad-looking as you probably imagine, survived the Great Fire of London and the Blitz, but may have met its match in 21st-century property developers.

‘The thought of the 400-year-old Bethnal Green Mulberry Tree being dug up to build a block of flats fills me with horror,’ said Dame Judi. ‘This pandemic has taught us that we should respect nature not destroy it.’

Tower Hamlets council (boo!) green-lit plans for 300 flats on the site, but reassured residents that the tree would be picked up by its roots and ‘replanted it in its entirety’ elsewhere. Where elsewhere? It sounds suspiciously like when a child’s dog dies and the parents tell them it’s gone to live with another family, very far away. 

Campaigners in east London, working with Dame Judi, have raised more than 12 grand in an effort to save the woody blighter. If you want to chip in, you can do so here.

10 very eye-catching London trees you can find and gawp at during lockdown.

Need more leaves and branches? Here are our favourite walks, many of which feature trees.

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