ONE of England’s oldest churches has been left reeling after yobs caused thousands of pounds of damage to the site’s historic stained glass windows.
Thugs smashed the intricate Victorian glasswork at St Peter’s Church, in Church Lane, Titchfield, after ripping off roof tiles and damaging guttering during a mindless spree of vandalism on Tuesday evening.
The damage is expected to cost upwards of £5,000 to fix and has left church leaders furious – and fearing for the future of St Peter’s.
Barbara Le Sueur, who has been the church warden for three years, was heartbroken by the attack.
She said: ‘When I saw the damage on Wednesday morning I almost burst into tears.
‘I can’t understand why anyone would do this to such a beautiful church that’s loved by the community.’
The church was founded more than 1,300 years ago in 680, making it the oldest in the county and one of the most ancient in England.
It has previously been vandalised, with yobs once launching a pear through the stained glass window, Barbara said.
The latest attack forced it to close its doors yesterday while police investigated.
The news outraged the community, with dozens of people venting their fury over Facebook.
Janet Lamont wrote: ‘How utterly unbelievable. This church is a stunning piece of history to be revered and lovingly tended to. Not destroyed for a few moments evil pleasure.‘
Barbara hoped the damage would be covered by the church’s insurance. However, she feared for the site’s future if it was forced to pay for the repairs itself.
‘We don’t have that sort of money,’ she added: ‘If the vandals carry on as they are this church won’t be here anymore.
‘What they don’t realise is we’re here for them. We’re not just here for ourselves or the glory of God.’
Hampshire police has appealed for help in tracing those responsible. A spokeswoman added: ‘It was reported that overnight on August 13 a stained glass window, estimated to be worth thousands of pounds, was smashed.
‘The local neighbourhood policing team have been made aware of the ongoing issues.’
Anyone with information about the attack should call police on 101 quoting 44190287542 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.