Monday - 21 April 2014

More carvings taken in spate of church thefts

29 May 2012Written by Tom Derbyshire

Two more churches have been hit by thieves in the latest of a series of break-ins targeting medieval monuments and carvings.

At some time between April 1 and 16, part of a 700-year-old Robert De Wakering stone effigy was stolen from the church he founded at Newland, Gloucestershire. Meanwhile, close by in Castle Frome, near Ledbury in Herefordshire, part of an effigy was chiselled out between April 29 and May 9.

These incidents follow a March 8-10 break-in at St Peter's Church at Drayford, near Abingdon in Oxfordshire (reported in ATG No 2035), during which one of six panels from a medieval reredos was seized.

Sally Badham, honorary president of the Church Monuments Society, suspects the latest thefts are not coincidental or opportunist but more likely "deliberately targeted".

All Saints Church in Newland was established by De Wakering in the 13th century, and the 14th century effigy formed a monument to him. The 2ft 1in (64cm) wide head section was already detached but lay with the rest of the effigy until stolen.

At St Michael's Church in Castle Frome thieves climbed onto a 2ft wide window ledge and used a chisel to remove part of the frame. The 9in (23cm) high stone carving depicts a knight holding a heart, indicating a heart burial, and probably commemorates Adam de Lacy (d.1297).

A police spokesman told ATG that given the locations and timings they would be looking into any possible links but nothing definite was known as yet.

If you have information on the Herefordshire theft call 101 or 0300 333 3000 quoting reference number 0298N 100512, or for the Gloucestershire theft call 101, quoting incident 294 of April 26.

• Yeovil police are investigating the theft of a 19th century Scottish mantel clock valued at around £3500 which was stolen in a domestic burglary in Stoke-Sub-Hamdon, Somerset, on May 7.

The hardwood clock has brass handles at either side, stands approximately 16in (41cm) tall and is thought to have been made in Glasgow at least 150 years ago. It has four small round brass feet, one of which is missing, as it was found at the scene.

Call Yeovil Police Station on 101. Alternatively you can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. The crime reference number is 49419/12.

• A fifth arrest has been made in connection with the theft of 18 mostly Ming and Qing dynasty jade items worth millions from Cambridge's Fitzwilliam Museum on April 13. The 24-year-old man, from Dartford, was arrested in Kent on Tuesday, May 22, on suspicion of burglary, and was taken to Cambridgeshire for questioning.

A 25-year-old London man appeared in front of Cambridge magistrates on May 21 accused of conspiracy to commit burglary and theft, and remanded in custody, and was due to appear at Cambridge Crown Court on May 28. A 15-year-old boy and a 28-year-old man face the same charges. A 31-year-old man has been arrested and bailed on suspicion of money laundering.

Written by

Tom Derbyshire

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