Oak trees grown in the Vale of Belvoir could be felled to help rebuild the fire-ravaged Notre Dame.
The Duke of Rutland, owner of the Leicestershire's historic Belvoir Castle, has vowed to gift a number of trees grown on his estate to help restore the 850-year-old Notre Dame, in the centre of Paris.
He is one of a number of owners of historic estates across the UK who have promised to provide some of the many oak trees that will be needed to repair the much-loved cathedral that was nearly destroyed after fire ripped through its centuries-old roof timbers on Monday.
The Duke said: "Anyone who lives in an old building knows there’s something special about the way it was built and the materials used.
"The trees in the original roof at Notre Dame probably started growing over a thousand years ago.
"We’re able to donate replacements because my great-great-grandfather had the foresight to plant trees that would only be valuable long after he died.
"And in turn we’ll replant every tree we fell – someone will need them for something in another few hundred years.
He added: "It’s a reminder of how important it is to both look after and renew our heritage resources. In our business you have to plan in centuries, not years."
The Duke of Rutland is a member of Historic Houses, an association for independently owned historic homes and gardens.
So far more than 100 of its members, including Hutton-in-the-Forest, Scone Palace, Castle Howard, Holkham Hall, Powderham Castle, and Firle Place, have volunteered trees, planted for timber centuries ago, as a gift from the UK to France for the restoration of the iconic landmark’s roof, destroyed by fire earlier this week.
However, the construction of the original roof in the 12th century is thought to have required 1,300 mature oaks.
But the donors say they are aware their contribution will only provide a fraction of what is needed but hope their actions will inspire others to help.
It is not the first time Britain’s great houses have rallied round to help with a major heritage restoration project.
After the devastating York Minster fire in 1984 more than 40 Historic Houses member places pledged 80 oak trees for the reconstruction efforts, joining donations from the Queen and the Prince of Wales.