Well, Bob - so much for the guy from the local gardeners association - I knew more than he did, I think! he noticed that the laurel tree trunk was black and thought that that also was diseased - but that trunk is always a much darker brown than anything else in the garden and is rock solid - it has always had a split trunk as long as we have been here, and is still growing strongly. (It was just a huge shrub, but we took a tip from Highgrove and chopped all the lower branches off to make said shrub into a tree). He brought the Gardening Expert book on Pests and came to the conclusion that the problem was somesthing whose name I cannot remember except that it began with a P - but the description was nothing like what we have got. Husband chopped half the hawthorn tree down and will dig the remaining trunk and root out tonight so that at least if it is the honey fungus we are removing the host. When we had the tree onthe ground, chopping it up for disposal, some of the leaves looked fine but most of it looked complely dead - as if it had been poisoned. We do know that the people who cut the field at the side of our garden put weed killer down the edges where it abuts to us, for ease of cutting, and we cannot help but wonder if some of it has affected our tree - but then, would it not have affected all the blackberries that we have climging up the same fence, but in a different part of the garden? We also but up to a a woodland area which belongs to a Govt Dept and cannot be touched, so we also wonder if something has eaten the roots where they might have spread into this area. I guess we are just going to have to bite the bullet and call in the experts but, in the meantime, when we have got all the root out we will spray the soil liberally with Armilladox (I think thats what it is called) to sterilise it. Said man had not a clue about the apple tree, but it is still fruting nicely so we will hang fire for a while with that and see if it recovers. Watch this space!