Residents in a Sussex village have been left shocked by the ‘callous theft’ of dozens of grave markers from a local churchyard.
Brass plaques marking the graves of 52 local people were stolen from St Margaret’s Church in West Hoathly after being levered off a wall.
Other plaques - attached to terrace walls at the church where people’s ashes have been buried for more than 100 years - were left damaged.
The theft was discovered yesterday by parish priest the Rev Nicol Kinrade. She said parishioners, churchwardens and herself were “shocked by the callous act.”
She said: “It’s the scale of it. For one family’s grave to be attacked in this way is bad enough, but for 52 families from across the village and further afield to be facing this ... we are in a state of shock.”
She said: “It is very distressing for the relatives, and for the Church. The scrap value of the metal will be nothing in comparison to the hurt this will cause people, to know their family graves have been subject to such unthinking indignity.”
She said that two men had earlier been seen acting suspiciously carrying a bucket before running off.
“We ask the people who did this to step back from their actions, look to their conscience, and please return the plaques.”
Church officials are now trying to notify all families affected by the theft. Meanwhile any relatives of those buried at the church whose markers are damaged or missing can contact the church on 01342 810183.