Little Saxham: Fears historic church bells to be melted down for scrap after theft

A photograph of one of the stolen bells from St Nicholas’ Church in Little Saxham.

A photograph of one of the stolen bells from St Nicholas Church in Little Saxham. - Credit: Contributed

“Irreplaceable” bells have been stolen from a church in Little Saxham, with fears the historic artefacts will be melted down for scrap.

The rector of St Nicholas’ Church has spoken out about the loss of the bells, one of which dates back to pre-Reformation times, and another to the 17th Century.

The Reverend Dr Barbara Sherlock said: “The church has never been targeted before, we were very fortunate.

“There have been a lot of metal thefts in recent times, with lead roofs stolen. Rural parish churches like us are especially vulnerable.

“Several of the parishioners are very upset because some of our history was stolen. The police were called immediately and they treated it as a crime scene.”

The theft took place between 8pm on Tuesday and 8am on Wednesday.

“It could be simply for melting it down and getting the scrap value. I would be hopeful that they would not do it but having experience with a previous church where lead was stolen from a roof these crimes are planned in advance,” the rector said.

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The pre-Reformation bell is one metre high and 86cm wide, while the other bell, which dates back to 1603, which was made in Norwich, is 86cm high and 75cm across.

“They were on display in the church. The one bell in the tower was not taken.

“It would have taken, I would say, three maybe four people to move them,” said the rector of five Suffolk churches.

“We were fortunate at Little Saxham for a while. In Dalham they have had the bells taken, pipes from the church organ and the lead roof.

“I won’t judge the people that did this. I only feel sorry that they were desperate enough to feel the need to do it.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Bury CID on 101 quoting reference BR/14/759.