NEARBY residents could only watch in despair as an ancient Yew Tree, believed to be up to 1,000 years-old, came crashing down in a Monmouthshire village.

The Yew Tree which stood in the grounds of St Faith's Church, Llanfoist, near Abergavenny, was battered by strong winds on Monday night when at least two-thirds of it fell onto the footpath and headstones, narrowly missing the church .

Ann Marie Barber of Church Lane, Llanfoist, who can see the tree from her home, heard a loud crack and saw the remaining part of the tree crash down on Thursday morning.

"I see the tree everyday and to see it come down in a matter of seconds was upsetting," said Mrs Barber.

Her husband and author Chris Barber, who has written a guide book to the church, believes the tree is be between 800-1,000 years-old.

"This tree dominated Llanfoist churchyard and was one of the most ancient and remarkable of such trees in Monmouthshire."

Church warden, Wendy Pendry, of Kiln Road, said: "It is a great loss to the church, villagers and walkers and cannot be replaced."

The extent of the damage will be known once the tree surgeon has assessed the tree.