Vandal attack on historic church

'BRING VANDALS TO JUSTICE' -- Dick Starr, of the Friends of Annesley Church group, at the scene of the vandalism at the historic building -- DISPIC NMAC12-0074-2

'BRING VANDALS TO JUSTICE' -- Dick Starr, of the Friends of Annesley Church group, at the scene of the vandalism at the historic building -- DISPIC NMAC12-0074-2

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

Annesley Old Church, which has links with the poet Lord Byron and author D.H.Lawrence, was targeted earlier this month and large pieces of stonework were ripped from a wall.

The damage is going to cost ‘thousands of pounds’ to repair and will delay the project.

Site foreman Peter Howes believes adults are responsible because the stones were heavy and fixed securely. He also fears further attacks.

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.

Mr Howes also fears that trespassers could 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.”

Deputy leader of Ashfield District Council, Coun John Wilmott (Lab), of Hucknall, said: “This is part of Ashfield’s heritage and it is fantastic that organisations and 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 Couns Helen Smith (Lib Dem) and Don Davis (Lab), who represent Annesley on Ashfield Council.

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.”

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 or via Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.