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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions