Church's treasures 'stolen to order'
By Cornish Guardian | Friday, September 28, 2012, 08:00
THIEVES who pillaged a Cornish church were "stealing to order", according to its rector.
CHURCH LOOT: The brass lectern was stolen.
The haul from the 16th-century Church of St Winwaloe at Poundstock, near Bude, included its historic brass lectern and pieces of carved wooden furniture.
The ancient Gildhouse nearby – due to receive an international honour in two weeks' time in recognition of its restoration – was also entered and six fire buckets were taken.
Canon Rob Dickenson estimated the cost of the damage to the church and the value of the items stolen at more than £20,000.
He said all the items in the church had been photographed for security purposes – but the thieves stole the pictures from the vestry. "This makes me think they were stealing to order," he said.
The eagle lectern, almost 6ft high, was worth between £7,000 and £8,000 alone, he said, but the cost of the damage was even greater.
The lock on the south door was broken and a lot of damage was caused to the 17th-century studded door itself.
An Armada lamp which had been converted to electricity was also stolen, and in ripping it from the wall the thieves broke a window. They also stole a Jacobean altar table and two brass urns.
The 470-year old Gildhouse is about to receive the 2012 Europa Nostra Conservation Award.
"They stole half a dozen early 20th-century fire buckets which were stored in the loft," said Mr Dickinson. "However, they left the two which were in the church.
"They didn't break into the wall boxes, where people put in donations or pay for items such as guidebooks, and left the jam and marmalade which is on sale, the crosses and candlesticks. I think they just took what they'd targeted. It's very sad."
Anyone who has information about the stolen items or saw suspicious vehicles in the area is being asked to call the police on 101 and quote crime reference number BU/12/668.
The Lord-Lieutenant of Cornwall, Colonel Edward Bolitho, and several European dignitaries are due to visit the Gildhouse on Wednesday, October 10.
The Lord-Lieutenant will be unveiling the plaque commemorating the award, which followed a £350,000 refurbishment.
It is the only surviving Tudor church house in Cornwall still serving its original purpose as a hall in which villagers feast and hold fundraising events. Down the years it has served as a schoolroom, a village hall and a poorhouse.