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.”
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Home Office says Nigerian asylum-seeker can’t be a lesbian as she’s got children
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 4 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
- 5 Apple and Google users being spied on for a decade because of 'Freak' security flaw
Glastonbury 2015: Coldplay will not headline but Florence Welch might play, says Emily Eavis
Kurt Cobain's life and death: Montage of Heck film uses unseen footage to tell Nirvana frontman's story
Mal Peet dead at 67: Tributes to children's author who was 'universally adored'
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Drugs Live: Twitter responds to Jon Snow and Jennie Bond smoking cannabis
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'