Historic Annesley church is hit by vandals

Site Forman for Croft Construction   Pete Howes show local councillors damage to the wall at the Old Annesley church from the left Counc Helen Smith ,Counc Don Davis, Counc John Wilmott and Pete Howes
Site Forman for Croft Construction Pete Howes show local councillors damage to the wall at the Old Annesley church from the left Counc Helen Smith ,Counc Don Davis, Counc John Wilmott and Pete Howes

MINDLESS vandals have attacked an historic church in Annesley which is being restored.

Annesley Old Church, which has links with Lord Byron and D.H. Lawrence, was targeted earlier this month and large pieces of stone work were ripped from a wall some time between 5th and 9th January.

The damage is going to cost ‘thousands of pounds’ to repair and will delay the project by at least a week.

Site foreman Peter Howes said he believed adults rather than children were responsible because the stones are so heavy and they were fixed securely.

He said: “What I can’t understand is why there is no damage anywhere else - the graves are all right. It’s just constantly on that wall.

“It’s going to cost thousands of pounds to put right and more than likely they will come and do some more damage.”

He also fears that if people who are not authorised to access the site do so, they could also hurt themselves.

The site has previously been targeted by vandals in July 2009 and then again in August last year when vandals destroyed the same stretch of wall.

Ashfield District Council secured £450,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore the church which dates back to 1356 and is mentioned in D.H. Lawrence’s 1911 novel The White Peacock.

Local history expert Dick Starr, from the Friends of Annesley Church group, said: “It’s obviously a historic site along with Annesley Hall. If they are caught, they ought to pay for it.”

Meanwhile, deputy leader of Ashfield District Council John Wilmott also criticised those responsible for the damage.

He said: “This is part of Ashfield’s heritage and it is fantastic that organisations and Ashfield District Council officers have worked so hard to get the funding to preserve this building.

“I just pray and hope that these people are caught and brought to account.”

His views were echoed by Annesley ward councillors Helen Smith and Don Davis.

Coun Smith said that the project should be instilling pride in people because it would bring tourists to the area.

She added: “We will be replacing these stones and if the council finds out who has done this, we will be prosecuting them.”

And Coun Davis said: “It just beggars belief that someone could do that. We are trying to do some good work here - I can’t understand why anyone would do this.”

The church held its last service in 1942 and was sold to the council in 1981. Restoration work began on 5th September last year.

Anyone with information can contact Nottinghamshire Police on 101 or Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.