Outraged heritage worker writes open letter to vandals who keep damaging Norfolk church

St George's Church in Shimpling keeps being vandalised. Photo: Angela Sharpe

St George's Church in Shimpling keeps being vandalised. Photo: Angela Sharpe - Credit: Archant © 2011

A furious officer from a conservation trust has hit out at vandals targeting a historic church in an open letter aimed at the perpetrators.

Rachel Morley, estates officer for the Churches Conservation Trust, said serious damage is caused to St George's Church, Shimpling, near Diss, on a monthly basis and added she felt 'sick' of the incidents.

Parts of the 'redundant church', which is no longer used for regular services, date back to the 12th century.

Nigel Frankland, chairman of Burston and Shimpling Parich Council echoed Miss Morley's comments and condemned the vandals.

The acts of vandalism, which began around March, include breaking down the door to the tower, hacking at a donation safe embedded in the church wall, stealing a 19th century Bible, and - earlier this week - breaking the glass of ten of the 12 windows.

In her letter to the vandals, published on her blog, Miss Morley wrote: 'I do not understand you. This place may mean nothing to you, but it means a lot to others.

'It has meant a lot to others for hundreds of years.

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'Churches were, for the most part, built by local people for local people.

'They are the places, where for centuries, ordinary people went to pour out their faith, pitch their hopes, whisper their fears, share their happiest and saddest moments. You are stealing from these people too.

'Churches have a hard enough time as it is. There is no money to repair them and the majority of the population are not interested in them.

'You are driving it to dereliction. And for what?'

Speaking to this newspaper afterwards she said: 'Churches like St George's are historical landmarks. I am really frustrated by the situation.

'Churches are incredibly valuable to some people.'

Miss Morley will meet a crime prevention officer and maintenance staff to discuss how to protect the church from similar incidents in the future. Alternatives include installing CCTV and/or an alarm system.

It comes shortly after long-term church-warden Maurice Philpot stopped helping at the church because of the vandalism.

Mr Frankland said services are still held annually in the church on St George's Day and in the build-up to Christmas, and condemned the vandalism.

He added: 'The parish council joins wholeheartedly in saying that these are terrible things to happen.'

Miss Morley also said vandals had targeted St Margaret's Church in nearby Hales, where windows had been smashed.

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