Two churches in West Norfolk hit in one day

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Donation boxes which were raising funds for two historic West Norfolk churches have been raided in one day.

St Andrew’s Church in Barton Bendish and All Saints’ Church in Tilney All Saints were hit by thieves on Tuesday.

Thieves have also damaged St Martin’s Church in Fincham but were disturbed before anything could be stolen.

The Barton Bendish and Tilney All Saints churches are desperately raising money to pay for repairs.

Tuesday’s theft is a double blow for the members of All Saints’ Church, which is already battling to raise £100,000 to replace the lead stolen from its roof last year.

The Rev Barbara Pearman said: “We were managing quite nicely to maintain the church in a reasonably decent order, but the lead theft threw us. We don’t have the money to recover from that.

“We don’t really have the means to do a lot of fundraising, so it is going to be a slow job.

“People have a myth that churches have lots of money but that is not true and most are struggling to survive to maintain these wonderful buildings, which are part of the country’s heritage and belong to us all.

“Anyone looking in churches for things to steal are going to be hard-pushed to find anything worth stealing, we just don’t have that kind of thing.”

The theft at All Saints’ happened at around 3.30pm and the thieves had damaged the lock on the vestry door to search the room.

Mrs Pearman said: “I don’t think there was much in there as it is emptied regularly because this has happened in the past.”

St Andrew’s Church, which is 800 years old, was raided between 2.30pm and 6.30pm.

The lock on the donations box was forced along with the vestry door. Nothing was stolen from the vestry.

Church warden Linda Webster said building work is being undertaken to repair the roof and walls.

Mrs Webster said: “We are continuously raising funds as we have a lot of work which needs doing.

“The money we have to spend to repair the damage could have been better spent on repairs to the church.”

A jazz picnic at Barton Bendish Village Hall on Saturday, July 11, will be raising money for the church. Gates open at 11.30am with the event running from noon to 3pm. Entry is £6.50 on the door. No charge for children.

An art and craft exhibition will be held at the church and village hall on Saturday and Sunday, September 19 and 20. Both venues will benefit from this.

St Martin’s Church in Fincham has been closed while damage to the vestry door and cupboards is repaired.

Two men were found in the church on Tuesday but left before anything was taken.

Call police on 101 if you have any information.