Vandals have destroyed one of the most celebrated Christian pilgrimage sites in Britain and chopped down a tree said to have sprouted from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea 2,000 years ago.

The Holy Thorn Tree of Glastonbury, Somerset, is visited by thousands every year to pay homage and leave tokens of worship. Those visiting today were moved to tears on finding the tree cut to a stump.

The sacred tree is unique in that it blossoms twice a year – at Christmas and Easter – and sprigs taken from the thorn are sent to The Queen each year for the festive table.

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