Villagers at Walpole Cross Keys in Norfolk devastated by theft of historic church bell

Sandra Hodgson next to the stand that held the historic church bell in Walpole Cross Keys before it

Sandra Hodgson next to the stand that held the historic church bell in Walpole Cross Keys before it was stolen at the weekend. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Villagers have been left devastated after a treasured historic church bell which had been in their community for more than 100 years was stolen.

The stolen bell.

The stolen bell. - Credit: Archant

The former St Helen's Mission Church bell, which had been in Walpole Cross Keys since 1881, was given to long-term resident Anne Young in the 1970s when the church building was converted into a residential property.

After Mrs Young died last year, her daughter, Mari Cuschieri, decided she would hold an auction within the village so the popular item could remain in the area.

But on Bank Holiday Monday neighbour Sandra Hodgson noticed the bell had been taken from Mrs Young's garden in Sutton Road.

'It is very, very sad this has happened,' Mrs Cuschieri said. 'The bell has great significance to the village and the people who live here. I think my mother would be absolutely distraught.'

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Mrs Young was born as Anne Turner in a cottage opposite the Mission Church, where she was later a Sunday school teacher.

'Her brother Trevor has fond memories as a boy racing across the road every Sunday to get to the church bell before the other children so he could pull the rope to ring the bell announcing the start of Sunday school,' Mrs Cuschieri said.

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She added that when Barry Judd bought the church and converted it, he 'felt it was important to keep the bell in the village and gifted it to my mother in the knowledge that she would appreciate it and care for it, which she did by having it mounted on an iron frame in her garden.

'Every New Year's Eve the bell could be heard as it would be rung

to celebrate a new year for the village.'

With the bell highly sought after in the village and many residents expressing an interest in keeping it, Mrs Cuschieri said: 'The plan for the future of the bell was that we would auction it in the village, so the residents who showed an interest in it had the opportunity to have it as long as it was kept in the village.'

An appeal has now been launched for information about the theft, which is thought to have taken

place some time between Saturday, August 24 and the following


Anyone with information should call police on 101.

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