March 16 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, January 9, 2014
A vicar has vowed to keep his church door open for worshippers despite vandals ransacking the inside of the building.
A cabinet was smashed, pews damaged, prayer and hymn books ripped up and two fire extinguishers let off inside St Mary’s Old Parish Church in Frinton, on New Year’s Day.
But Rev Don Smith says he will not contemplate locking the unattended church, which stands on a site where a place of worship has existed for the past 1,000 years.
“We keep the church open from dawn to dusk and we are determined to keep this as an open place of worship,” he said.
“It would be terrible if we had to close it because of something like this and we shall keep it open.”
According to Mr Smith, the church warden discovered the damage late on News Year’s Day. It is believed the perpetrators entered the church in Old Road some time between 9am and 5pm on January 1.
He said: “The church warden found the mess. The worst damage was to a cabinet which had been kicked in, presumably because they were looking for something valuable.
“There is nothing of value kept in the church and I suppose when they couldn’t find anything they decided to vandalise things.
“It’s not a place you’d think people would come looking for something valuable – there are only some pews and a few books in here.
“I’ve been here five years and nothing like this has happened before.”
He added: “It’s upsetting that some people have such a low regard for a place of worship in today’s society.
“However, we are determined to keep a place of open worship in Frinton.”
The town’s mayor, Iris Johnson, said she was “very disappointed” to hear the news and said she would be contacting both Mr Smith and the police to see if anything could be done to prevent similar incidents in the future.
She added: “We mustn’t let the vandals win. Why anyone would want to smash up a church is beyond me.
“People visit churches for a host of reasons – they are places of peace and quiet, and of historical interest. It is important that they remain accessible to people.
Essex Police say they would like to hear from anyone with information about the vandals responsible for the damage.
Anyone who saw any suspicious behaviour in the area or who has any other information about the vandalism is asked to call Pc Rob Cubberley, at Harwich Police Station, on 101, or call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.