Mendlesham’s anger at ‘senseless’ decapitation of the Three Wise Men from church nativity

The decapitated Three Wise Men from St Mary's Church in Mendlesham. Picture: ANNE GRAY

The decapitated Three Wise Men from St Mary's Church in Mendlesham. Picture: ANNE GRAY - Credit: Archant

The decapitation of Three Wise Men statues featured in a Suffolk church’s nativity display has been branded “senseless vandalism”.

A young girl takes a look at the nativity scene outside the church in Mendlesham. Picture: ST MARY'S

A young girl takes a look at the nativity scene outside the church in Mendlesham. Picture: ST MARY'S CHURCH - Credit: Archant

Father Philip Gray was said to have been “very upset” when he made the grim discovery at St Mary’s Church in Mendlesham, near Stowmarket, before morning prayers on Saturday.

The display has been part of the village’s Christmas celebrations for around 20 years and is said to have been particularly popular among children.

Anne Gray, the vicar’s wife, said her husband had added the Three Wise Men to the display just the night before, replacing the shepherds to make it an Epiphany crib, which traditionally happens around Twelfth Night.

“He was very upset and rather sad that someone would do this,” she added.

“It’s just senseless vandalism.”

The hand-painted plaster figures, which are around a foot tall and 60-70 years old, are thought to cost hundreds of pounds to replace – but are likely to be repaired instead.

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“It’s just very sad,” Mrs Gray added. “They are the figures that my husband takes to the primary school every year when he does an assembly and the children just love them.

“It’s become quite a feature for the village and a reminder of what Christmas is all about.

“Many people who don’t even go into the church at Christmas say how much they appreciate the crib, particularly the children.”

The church is reviewing its CCTV footage in the hope of catching the vandalism in action, which is thought to have happened sometime overnight from Friday into Saturday.

“I think it’s probably just someone who was drunk or being a bit stupid,” Mrs Gray added.

News of the decapitation is said to have been met with anger in the community.

Mrs Gray said she had been “quite surprised” by the strength of feeling in the village.

“I understand there’s a Facebook page where people have been discussing it,” she added.

“Someone called up asking if they could do a collection to replace the statues.”

Suffolk Constabulary has issued an appeal for anyone with information about the vandalism to come forward. People who may have witnessed suspicious activity are asked to call Suffolk police on 101 quoting crime reference 37/1202/17.

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