COMPLAINTS from brides and pallbearers will see two "sacred" yew trees cut down in a churchyard.

And two villagers are outraged that the ancient trees, in the grounds of Chalfont St Giles Church, face the chop and insist the trees simply need some due care and attention.

The decision to remove the trees, which emerged after church users complained that their clothes were getting caught on branches, was approved at parish council meetings. The work is expected to be carried out in the next few weeks.

Raymond Stacey, 60, who lives in The Drey, Chalfont St Peter, said: "It would take a day's work to get the tree back in shape. All it needs is the right attitude and the will to do something. Unfortunately nobody will stand up and say anything in the meetings."

Dick Butterworth, 79, who lives almost directly opposite the church, agrees that the trees should not have to be removed.

He said: "The church is a Grade I listed building and so are the churchyards. The trees should not have to be sacrificed."

The yew trees, which traditionally are believed to keep witches away from the graveyard, are a feature of the walk into the church and frame the west door of the church.

They have been in the grounds for over a century, but have not been pruned in the last five years.

The lychgate an arched entrance to the graveyard also frames the trees and approving the removal of the yews could pave the way for destroying the already deteriorating gate at a later date.

Mr Stacey says the lychgate is more difficult for brides and pallbearers to negotiate, as the entrance is only three feet wide.

He said: "If you take the most extreme action, then you could cut the tree right down to its roots on each side, and then over the years it would grow back.

"But they want to replant the trees further away from each other, and I can't see how they can do it without planting them on the graves."

He added: "There is no need to cut down these trees. The beautiful features of our churchyard need not be destroyed because of vanity, poor management and the temporary demands of modern fashion."

Kevin Searle, Church Warden of Chalfont St Giles Church, said: "We have discussed this issue at length at the PCC meetings and the view was that the trees had been badly maintained in the past and as a result, they lean inwards now.

"The general view was that we do like the trees and we would like to remove them and replace them further back as far as possible, restoring the status quo."

Matt Wilson