Police appeal after 'organised gang' desecrate Brontë family church

 

The historic chapel where the Brontë sisters were baptised has been ‘desecrated’ by what is thought to be an organised gang of stone thieves.

Up to 30 metres of stone worth £500, including three grave stones, was stolen from the cemetery and Grade Two-listed Brontë Bell Chapel in the village of Thornton, near Bradford, West Yorkshire last week.

Reverend Patrick Brontë, father to writers Charlotte, Emily and Anne, preached at the chapel before the family moved to Howarth in in 1819. The Brontë sisters were born and christened there making it an important stop on the Brontë Way footpath.

The walk, which stretches from Oakwell Hall to Gawthorpe Hall near Burnley, is popular with tourists keen to see the landscape that inspired Wuthering Heights.

Locals have worked for 12 years voluntarily to restore the Brontë Bell Chapel to encourage visitors.

“We’re shocked that the church has been desecrated. Some of the graves date back 200 years. This has upset a lot of local people, it’s just awful,” Old Bell Chapel action group co-ordinator Steve Stanworth said.

“It must have been an organised gang because the weight of the stones is quite incredible.”

The grave slabs stolen measure six feet long by three foot wide and are six inches thick and would take four men to lift.

Police have launched an appeal but said today that they had “no positive lines of enquiry despite investigations”.

DI Mark Long of Airedale and North Bradford CID, said: "This is quite clearly a despicable act which will cause great offence in the local community.”

One of the stolen grave stones dated from 1790. Another marked the final resting place of John and Mary Pickles and the five children who died before them in the 1820s.

Another stone came from the plot of Hannah and James Abbott and their 28-year-old daughter Mary who died in 1828.

The action group noticed coping stones had been ripped from historic fabric of the chapel itself last Wednesday and returned to the site on Saturday to discover the further damage.

Officers are appealing for information about the thefts which took place between 9pm on Friday 19 October and 8am on Saturday 20 October.

"Any new leads to identify and catch those responsible will be followed up and information should be passed to the North Bradford Neighbourhood Policing Team on 101.”

"Anyone who has information can also contact CrimeStoppers anonymously and in confidence on 0800 555 111.”

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk