One of the most iconic round tower churches in Norfolk has been vandalised.
Windows were smashed at St Margaret, Hales, near Loddon. In addition, the communion rail has been broken off and stolen from the 12th century church.
The national conservation charity, the Churches Conservation Trust, which cares for St Margaret, has now closed it until further notice.
A forensic investigation started promptly, thanks to Norfolk Police, and a maintenance team has also cleaned up some of the damage, which probably took place early in the new year.
Kate Roma, who is the charity’s local volunteering officer, said that the damage was discovered during a routine visit by maintenance staff.
“Windows have been smashed and the communion rail has been broken off and stolen. Beer bottles and cigarette butts were found inside the church routine,” she said.
“St Margaret’s is such a loved church in the local area and is frequented by walkers and visitors, which makes this act of vandalism so heart-breaking,” she added.
Donation can be made on the website www.visitchurches.org.uk/HAS or text ‘HAS’ to 70191 to donate £10.
The thatched roof at Hales church and nearby Heckingham was repaired in the autumn 2020 and spring 2021 at a total cost of about £25,000. The ridge at St Margaret, which was replaced to a unique and traditional design, was in a poor state.
A number of local charities supported the CCT’s project including the All Churches Trust, the Bacon Charitable Trust Geoffrey Watling Charity and local people.