Dozens of graves have been smashed up in a senseless act of vandalism at a Grade I listed church over three nights of vandalism.
Rev Canon Dr Andrew Bishop said the state that Croydon Minster in south London had been left in had been a ‘real shock to the system.’
Upsetting video panning around the churchyard shows grave after ancient grave uprooted, smashed in two and in some cases tombs have been broken into, with debris scattered around.
Thirty gravestones have been destroyed – some dating back 500 years. Many of the stones had survived the Blitz as well as a fire which destroyed much of the original church in 1867.
The church are appealing for witnesses along with police who are trying to find out who took a sledgehammer to the the graves.
Rev Canon Dr Andrew Bishop said the state that Grade I listed Croydon Minster had been left in had been a ‘real shock to the system’
Members of the congregation described the acts as ‘devastating’, ‘disgusting’ and ‘disrespectful’, while others said ‘love will prevail’ after the attack.
Speaking on the church’s Facebook page, priest in charge Rev Canon Bishop said that although the vandalism had been heartbreaking it had also seen the community come together, with many messages of support and even an offer to restore the graves by a local funeral director.
The clergyman posted videos of the considerable damage online on April 15, saying: ‘Devastating damage inflicted upon the upright headstones on the north east side of the church yesterday afternoon.
‘Luckily no member of staff was around to witness this or get hurt! Sadly out of view of our CCTV cameras as well. And if the north side wasn’t bad enough, the south side is worse!’
According to Croydon Police’s Facebook page the damage was carried out over three nights on April 12, 13 and 14.
Priest in charge Rev Canon Bishop, 53, followed up the two videos of the damage with a third update on April 19 where he spoke to camera.
He said: ‘It’s been over a week since we discovered this horrible scene of destruction.
‘Somebody has come along and smashed headstones – some of which are up to 300 years old – marking the burial place of people of this great town of Croydon.
‘Out of this destruction, which came in the very week we were celebrating triumph, life and hope in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, out of this scene of destruction I’m also pleased to be able to say thank you for the wonderful kind generous messages of support both on social media and by contacting the church directly.’
Grade I listed Croydon Minster is appealing for witnesses after dozens of its graves – some dating back 300 years – were smashed up
He thanked Croydon mayor Jason Perry, MP for Croydon Central Sarah Jones, the police and Rowland Brothers funeral directors who offered to help repair the damage.
He went on: ‘Thank you Croydon for rallying round in your support in what’s been a real shock to the system for this church.
‘I think in all the help, all the support we’ve had, there’s a great sign of hope that Croydon can come together.
‘Let’s not just come together for this sort of thing, let’s come together for so many things and I want to recommit this church to being at the heart of that. Thank you Croydon.’
Among the stones which have been destroyed was one for John Kennedy, a former quartermaster of ‘Her Majesty’s Waggon Train’ during the Napoleonic Wars who died in 1804.
He was described on the headstone as ‘an honest man’.
Another stone which has been destroyed was that of Alexander Cutting, who died in 1746, while Steward Baker, a resident of nearby almshouses, died in 1796.
His stone has been pushed out of the earth, cracking the base.
Residents were upset by the damage.
One said: ‘Just so sorry to see this. I was baptised, brought up and married in this beautiful church and my mother attends weekly, so Croydon Minster holds a very special place in our hearts.
‘I’m praying for you Fr Andrew and the community of The Minster at this difficult time. God bless each of you. Love will prevail.’
Another said: ‘I can’t believe the destruction. Absolutely disgraceful and totally disrespectful. This saddens me greatly.’
Another said: ‘Sad people and NO respect,’ while another said: ‘This is devastating news.’
Another described it as ‘Absolutely disgusting’ while one said: ‘Is this what the world is coming to? So sad.’
Another said: ‘Well said, Fr Andrew, about everyone rallying round the church.
‘Whatever possessed anyone to take a sledgehammer to these wonderful historic monuments to Croydon’s citizens? No purpose served whatsoever.’
There are 35 churches in the Croydon borough, of which the minster in Croydon’s Old Town is the most prominent.
It dates back to the middle Saxon period and is also mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.
Six Archbishops of Canterbury are buried in the church: Edmund Grindal (d.1583), John Whitgift (d.1604), Gilbert Sheldon (d.1677), William Wake (d.1737), John Potter (d.1747), and Thomas Herring (d.1757).
Croydon Police appealed for information on Facebook, saying: ‘Our Grade 1 listed Church, Croydon Minster of St John Baptist, has had 30 gravestones destroyed, some of the graves date back 500 years.
‘This happened over 3 nights – 12th April, 13th and 14th of April. If anyone has any information, please call 101 and quote CAD 5429/16 April 2023.’
MailOnline has contacted the Met Police for further comment.
Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12006547/Graves-Croydon-spanning-300-years-survived-WWII-Blitz-destroyed.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490&rand=1270