Thieves break church’s stained-glass window from the 1700s and steal silver from safe during robbing spree in Daventry district village

The church of St Peter and St Paul in Watford
The church of St Peter and St Paul in Watford

A Daventry district village was targeted by thieves who broke into a church, a village hall and a private house during their spree, breaking a stained-glass window dated to the 1700s in the process.

In the early hours of June 15, the robbers entered the church of St Peter and St Paul’s in Watford village via the smashed window, wrecked the interior of the church in an act of vandalism, made their way to the vestry and into the safe to steal the small amount of church silverware that had been donated in 1720 by Sarah Clerke.
The church safe was in fact taken into the churchyard where it was hacked open, seemingly with a pickaxe.
Having robbed the church the thieves then broke into the village hall and a private house where they were disturbed and chased off.

The strong box in the vestry that was broken into to get to the safe

The strong box in the vestry that was broken into to get to the safe

“As for the actual cash value of the items, we are still getting that assessed by insurers,” said the church’s vicar Reverend Graham Collingridge.

“But in terms of historical value they are irreplaceable because they were donated by Mrs Clerke back in 1720.

“They were an important part of the heritage of the church.”

He added: “The Clerkes were an important family in the village.”

The thieves gained access through a stained glass window dating to the 1700s

The thieves gained access through a stained glass window dating to the 1700s

The silver items were used during all the worships at the Watford church, and Reverend Collingridge has had to make do with temporary items since the break-in.

He said he had not heard from the police since first reporting the theft, and that after the incident took place another break-in had occurred, although nothing was taken because, in the words of Reverend Collingridge, there was “nothing left to take.”

A fundraising page has been created by Watford resident Dan White to help cover the costs of repairing the broken window.
This is not the first time the church of St Peter and St Paul’s has been the target of thieves. On April 11 last year at 2am, lead from the roof was stripped and thrown into the churchyard, damaging the gravestones.
The 2016 theft caused £30,000 worth of damage.