Flagstone smashed into pieces in latest attack on historic Yorkshire church

St Mary's Church. Copyright Philip Platt.
St Mary's Church. Copyright Philip Platt.

A police officer has spoken of the “immeasurable cost” of heritage crime after a historic disused church building in North Yorkshire was vandalised.

Over the May Bank Holiday weekend, vandals entered the disused church building at old St Mary’s Church in Pateley Bridge, police say.

Inspector Jon Grainge of North Yorkshire Police

Inspector Jon Grainge of North Yorkshire Police

They smashed the surface of one of the large flagstones in the nave of the old church. It is thought a large rock was used to strike the surface of the flagstone, causing it to smash into pieces.

St Mary’s was built in the late 13th century, and reconstructed in the 17th century. It fell into disrepair during the early 1800s and finally closed in 1826 having become too small for the congregation, too expensive to maintain and too difficult to reach due to the gradient of the hill.

It is not the first time this year that the old church has suffered damage at the hands of vandals. The building is looked after by volunteers on behalf of St Cuthbert’s, Pateley Bridge parochial church council. Repairs will have to be paid for by the church.

Inspector Jon Grainge, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “North Yorkshire has thousands of heritage sites across the county - they’re part of the reason why it’s such an attractive place to live and visit.

Heritage crime damages assets of historical interest and can lead to the loss of these assets forever. Repairing the damage caused to heritage sites is expensive, and the cost to communities is often immeasurable.

Inspector Jon Grainge, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce

“Heritage crime damages assets of historical interest and can lead to the loss of these assets forever. Repairing the damage caused to heritage sites is expensive, and the cost to communities is often immeasurable.”

Anyone with information can call North Yorkshire Police 101, and ask for Bill Hickson, or email. bill.hickson@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk.

In March, The York Heritage Watch group was launched in a bid to stop the thefts and criminal damage offences that could have a major impact on the walled city’s tourist economy. Heritage crimes, described as any offence which causes harm to heritage assets and their settings, are said to be under-reported, meaning police do not have the full picture of the type of crimes committed.

York Heritage Watch a new initiative aimed at protecting Yorks historic assets from criminals was launched at the Yorkshire Museum in Museum Gardens, York.
Pictured from left, Supt Adam Thomson, former senior police officer John Minary and Insp Jon Grainge.
28th March 2016.
Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

York Heritage Watch a new initiative aimed at protecting Yorks historic assets from criminals was launched at the Yorkshire Museum in Museum Gardens, York. Pictured from left, Supt Adam Thomson, former senior police officer John Minary and Insp Jon Grainge. 28th March 2016. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe