Archers' naked shepherd stolen 'for scrap metal'

The First World War poet Rupert Brooke would have been horrified. His poem, "The Old Vicarage, Grantchester", written in 1912, was a loving homage to his Cambridgeshire home, which he thought epitomised idyllic, rural England.

But now the area eulogised by Brooke for its "peace and Holy quiet" has been hit by a crime wave, with the Old Vicarage itself - home of disgraced author and Conservative peer Jeffrey Archer - the scene of the latest outbreak.

Two life-size sculptures, worth several thousand pounds each, were stolen on Tuesday evening from the garden of the Old Vicarage in the latest in a series of metal thefts in the region. Police believe the scrap is being stolen and shipped to the Far East for recasting.

One of the two pieces, created by Christopher Marvell, is of a naked shepherd with four sheep. The second is of a girl doing a handstand. They could be seen from the road that passes the property, home to the millionaire novelist and his wife, Mary, since the 1980s.

Lady Archer, 62, said CCTV cameras had captured the thieves at work. It took them two hours to saw through the bases of the sculptures before loading them on to a vehicle. She was in the house, but had gone to bed.

She said: "It was quite frightening for me because I was at the house at the time. I feel angry as any householder would be and sad because they were distinguished works of art and if they are sold as scrap metal and destroyed it would be an absolute crime and act of vandalism."

Lady Archer would not reveal precisely how much the sculptures were worth, only saying they were "both of considerable value". The couple are offering an undisclosed reward for the return of the sculptures.

A spokeswoman for Cambridgeshire police said the theft was the latest in a series in the area. "We have had a lot of scrap metal thefts. Lead, copper piping and so on. We suspect it is being reused in China and the Far East."

Detective Sergeant Dean Wiffin, who is leading the inquiry, added: "The sculptures were sawn off their base before being taken from the garden. These sculptures would have needed a large vehicle to move them and I would like to hear from anyone who remembers seeing a van in the area."

According to the biography of Lady Archer by Margaret Crick, Lord Archer bought the shepherd piece because he thought it would make a perfect addition to the grounds of their home. But when Lady Archer saw it she was said to have exclaimed: "The penis is too big!" The sculptor was asked to reduce the size of the offending organ.

Lord Archer, a former Conservative Party vice-chairman, was jailed for four years for perjury and perverting the course of justice at the Old Bailey in 2001 over his libel action against the Daily Star in 1987. He was freed on parole after serving two years.

The Old Vicarage was built around 1685, passing into private hands in 1820. From about 1910 onwards, Brooke rented a room and then a larger part of the house. He wrote the poem, "The Old Vicarage, Grantchester", in Berlin in 1912, as a lament for his much-missed English village home. After the poet's death in 1915, the house was bought by his mother.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas