Valuable church statue smashed by vandals

By in Crime

POLICE are looking for the vandals or thieves responsible for severely damaging a statue valued at several thousand pounds which had become a visitor attraction at Carhampton’s St John the Baptist parish church.

The 80-year-old 4ft high elm sculpture of a praying figure, by celebrated West Somerset artist the late Rachel Reckitt, was discovered on Friday morning (March 24) lying on its side near the altar with both arms broken off.

It is thought that the damage was probably done the previous afternoon before the church was locked for the night.

A church volunteer said: “We don’t know what the motive was – perhaps mindless vandalism or a failed attempt to steal the sculpture, which was then found to be too heavy to take away.”

Rachel Reckitt, who died in 1995 aged 87, was brought up at Golsoncott, near Roadwater. She did much of her work in West Somerset but achieved international recognition and exhibited with contemporaries including Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.

In a lighter vein, she produced several distinctive signs for local pubs, including those currently on the Butcher’s Arms, Carhampton, and the White Horse, Washford.

Carhampton’s rector, the Rev Caroline Ralph, told the Free Press: “Everyone involved in the church is very sad and disappointed this has happened. This sort of occurrence is relatively unusual, particularly in this church.

“Many people visit our church and express their appreciation in the visitors’ book.

Police are appealing to anyone who has any information on the incident to contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.