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.

Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
people>Her debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
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

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam