An historic village church has been left with a repair bill in the thousands after it was targeted twice in three days by ‘despicable’ thieves who ripped up rows of its century-old stone flags.
St Michael’s and All Angels Church in Much Hoole was targeted last Monday where unknown thieves ripped up hoards of its stone flags from its north side, dating back 100 years.
Churchwarden Jock Davidson said: "On Monday thieves visited and removed stone flags from around the church.
"So we reported it to the police on Tuesday but they have now been back and removed all the stone flags from inside the church porch."
The church is well known for its historical connections to Liverpudlian astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks who lived at nearby Carr House in the 17th century.
He was the first person to demonstrate that the Moon moved around the Earth in an elliptical orbit.
For Jock and the congregation, the theft is even more upsetting after all the hard work that has gone into repairing the church since the devastating floods in December 2015.
"It's not just the repair work," explained 78-year-old Jock, who has been warden for the last six years being moving from Walmer Bridge.
“In 2015 we were flooded badly. There was a lot of problems with drainage and the ground.
"We only had the north and south side and the drains fixed recently because of this.
“We only got it all sorted a few months ago with the flagging and now it’s all been taken away.
“It must have cost us £3,500 to £4,000 on just the northern side alone. These people are despicable.
"This is consecrated ground. This church has been here since 1628.
“Everyone does their part to keep the church going and for some horrible people to come along and do this..."
Jock now wants to get the message out to the community about these thieves – and also to raise awareness of the situation to those having landscaping work.
“What I would like to ask the public is if there is anyone having flags laid in their gardens or anywhere, or know anyone who is, please question where flags are coming from if they are proper stone flags,” said Jock.
“These aren’t the run-of-the-mill you get from any builders’ yard. Ask if the flags are legit.”
The stress for the congregation now is fixing the problem before bad weather picks up in autumn and winter.
"We've only just get damp in church sorted from the flooding," explained Jock.
As for leads, Jock added: "The police came on Tuesday afternoon but they said there's not much they can do without evidence, CCTV, footprints and witnesses.
"I think we're going to have to invest in some CCTV now going forward."
• Anyone with any information on the incidents can contact Lancashire Police on 101 quoting reference number LC-20190827-1294.