Village church ransacked as vandals attack on day of riots

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A VILLAGE church in Northampton was ransacked by vandals on the day riots swept through the nation.

However, police yesterday said that there was no evidence to suggest that the incident was linked to the national disorder but the crime was being investigated.

Offenders invaded the church of St Peter and St Paul in Nether Heyford, Northampton on Tuesday, causing damage to the pulpit, font, lectern and bell tower. The incident happened sometime between 10am and 5.30pm in the 12th- century church, which is left open to the public in the day for private worship.

The parish church is unsupervised during the day and the damage was not discovered until the building was locked up at around 5pm.

Assistant curate, the Rev Andrea Watkins, said the church would now have to close in the daytime.

She said: “It’s just tragic for the community. We keep this church open in the day time so people can use it for quiet time and prayer space but unfortunately for the foreseeable future it will have to close.”

The Rev David Smith, who retired after 13 years at the church, said he had never seen anything like the destruction caused.

He said chairs were tipped over, prayer books were ripped, glass windows in the bell tower were smashed and the lectern, the ancient lid of the font, the wooden cross at the alter and a candle stick on the pulpit were all broken.

He confirmed that nothing was stolen from the church but said he did not know how much it would cost to repair.

He added: “I am disgusted by this. It just makes me feel sick.

“The vandals haven’t achieved anything by doing this. I just can’t understand why they would.”

Ms Watkins said it was not known if the attack was linked to the riots which took place in London, Manchester, Birmingham and other cities and towns over the last few days.

However she said the community, like many others across the country, had pulled together to clean up the mess.

Around 20 volunteers descended on the church yesterday morning to tidy up the debris and Ms Watkins said: “The community spirit has been the winner in this. People who never come to the church but live nearby and have heard about the damage have come to help. The church means a lot to the village.”

Ms Watkins said the opening times of the church would be reviewed in the future but for the foreseeable future it would be closed in the day time.

Northamptonshire Police are appealing to any witnesses to the incident or anyone with any information to come forward and contact them on 03000 111 222 or contact the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.