Fowl play! Villagers in a flap over 'decapitation' of 'chicken tree'

Fowl play! Villagers in a flap over 'decapitation' of 'chicken tree'

February 4, 2022

Fowl play! Residents demand a privet investigation after a chicken-shaped tree which has been a village landmark for 20 years was DECAPITATED

  • Residents say the Chicken Tree of Wroughton, Wiltshire, has been ‘decapitated’
  • The tree, beside the B4005, no longer looks like a chicken after losing its head
  • Villagers demanding a probe and suspect foul play by Swindon Borough Council
  • But authority insists it was not its workers and instead fell victim to high winds 

Furious villagers have called foul play on their local council over the mysterious ‘decapitation’ of a chicken-shaped tree.

Residents in the small village of Wroughton, Wiltshire, were left all in flap after the tree’s head – which gave it its chicken-like appearance – suddenly disappeared.

While it may seem a paltry issue for some, the tree, located beside the B4005, has become a popular local landmark over the last 20 years and has even been dubbed the village’s ‘Angel of the North’.

Worse yet, locals believe the so-called ‘Chicken Tree’ has fallen foul of a coup by over-zealous council health and safety chiefs who they believe are behind the mysterious ‘decapitation’.

Residents in the village are now demanding a thorough investigation in the hope of cracking the case.

However bosses at Swindon Borough Council are keen not to end up with egg on their face over the tree.

And while they admit council contractors were in the area at the time of the mystery ‘decapitation’, they insist there was no foul play, instead suggesting the tree was simply the victim of recent heavy winds. 


Residents in the small village of Wroughton, Wiltshire, were left all in flap after the tree’s head – which gave it its chicken-like appearance – suddenly vanished.

Residents in the village are now demanding a thorough investigation in the hope of cracking the case. Pictured: The Chicken Tree of Wroughton before it was ‘decapitated’

While it may seem a paltry issue for some, the tree, located beside the B4005, has become a popular local landmark over the last 20 years and has even been dubbed the village’s ‘Angel of the North’

The council said in a statement: ‘The branch fell due to high winds and not as a result of the contractors. 

‘There was a grab lorry adjacent and the branch fell on it.’ 

Meanwhile, villagers remain in mourning over the loss of the tree’s head, which was first reported on local news sites Wiltshire Live and This is Wiltshire.

Steve Bessent said the journey along the B4005 would ‘no longer be the same’.

‘The local landmark ‘Chicken Tree’ has been disfigured, whether by accident or design we may never know’, he said.

Adding: ‘It is more than just a tree, it acted as our farewell and welcome home, a friend stood on the roadside waiting for the smiling faces to pass by.

‘Not all landmarks are made of steel or stone, some are provided by nature, perhaps these above all, we cherish the most.

‘With its head removed, it will be a constant reminder of how one thoughtless act or force of nature can affect so many people.’

Former long-term Swindon Borough Council leader Rod Bluh, who lives in Wroughton, said it was a ‘very sad loss’ and hopes it will regrow into the shame shape.

Villagers remain in mourning over the loss of the tree’s head, which was first reported on local news sites Wiltshire Live and This is Wiltshire .

Another local suggested the destruction of the tree (pictured) be marked with an ‘annual chicken tree dance or something to pay our respect as a community’

Another local suggested the destruction of the tree be marked with an ‘annual chicken tree dance or something to pay our respect as a community’.

‘It’s amazing that when the wind took it down, there just happened to be a grab lorry working in the immediate vicinity’, one dubious resident pointed out.

‘I also wasn’t aware that the wind had been that strong recently’, he added.

Another villager meanwhile remained sceptical about the Chicken Tree’s demise.

They said: ‘Why can’t they just own up to the fact they did it and really don’t give a damn?’

‘I’ll be relieved to find it was nature rather than human interference makes it much more bearable’, another upset local said.

It is not the first time there has been uproar over the mysterious loss of a road-side landmark.

Users of the M25 were left ‘devastated’ in 2018 after the famous ‘Give Peas a Chance’ graffiti was removed from a bridge over the motorway between junctions 16 and 17 in Buckinghamshire.

Users of the M25 were left ‘devastated’ in 2018 after the famous ‘Give Peas a Chance’ (pictured) graffiti was removed from a bridge over the motorway between junctions 16 and 17 in Buckinghamshire

‘Peas’ was reportedly the name of a London graffiti artist who daubed his name on the M25’s only Edwardian bridge, near Denham.

The words ‘give’ and ‘a chance’ were added later. The amended graffiti was thought to refer to his frequent arrests, reported the BBC at the time.

Network Rail, which owns the bridge, insisted it did not remove the graffiti. It has since been replaced with the word ‘Helch’ – though it is not clear who or what Helch is.

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