Volunteers who restored a village's blacksmiths have appealed for information after thieves stole a large amount of tools from the shop.
Thieves raided the blacksmith's shop in Whiston and the village church last month in the space of two weeks and now an appeal has been launched for any information about the gang who stole the tools.
Whiston, which has a population of about 60 people and sits between Northampton and Wellingborough, was once the home of members of the Catesby family, made famous during the Gunpowder Plot.
Dr Steven Hollowell said the blacksmith's shop was rebuilt by a small group of volunteers about 30 years ago.
"It was equipped as it would have been in the 19th century with tools from many Northamptonshire smithies which have long since disappeared," Dr Hollowell said.
"Following the restoration, a number of shoeing days were held with local ponies being shod again in the village street as in bygone times. There was no electricity and all the equipment was manually powered – including the bellows. The only lighting was a candle-stick made in the forge and an oil-lamp," he added.
Thieves broke in during the early hours of September 14, stealing a large amount of tools including the blacksmith's tongs and two large anvils. Two weeks later they returned to the
In the early hours of the 14th September, thieves entered the premises and stole a large amount of the tools including the blacksmith’s tongs and even the two, large, anvils. They returned two weeks' later but this time gained entrance to the church and this time stole a wooden side table which is believed to have been the 17th-century communion table.
"In both cases, the items that were removed are all unique and irreplaceable," Dr Hollowell added.
"Since then, the various police forces have been on the track of these and other goods believed to be stolen by the same gang. Some of the blacksmith’s tools appeared in a local auction in Leicestershire but before they could be retrieved, were passed on to someone in the Newark area," he said.
All of the blacksmith’s tools, including the anvils, have a small area which had been filed flat and a unique code consisting of letters and numbers stamped into the metal.
"If anyone has either bought or been offered any of the above items – especially those with the unique codes stamped on them, we would be very grateful if they could report it to the police by dialling 101, asking for Northamptonshire Police and then Abbey Amstead in Rural Policing," he said.