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'Unbelievable' - Reports of vandalism at medieval Norfolk church

PUBLISHED: 15:21 14 June 2019

Police are investigating reports of criminal damage at Hopton ruined church. Picture: Nick Butcher

Police are investigating reports of criminal damage at Hopton ruined church. Picture: Nick Butcher

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Residents of a Norfolk village have expressed shock after a peaceful medieval heritage site was vandalised.

Police are investigating reports of criminal damage between June 10 and 12 at St Margaret's Ruined Church in Hopton. Picture: Hopton Parish Council.Police are investigating reports of criminal damage between June 10 and 12 at St Margaret's Ruined Church in Hopton. Picture: Hopton Parish Council.

Hopton Parish Council said the "tranquillity" of St Margaret's Ruined Church, a 13th century structure, has been "shattered by vandals".

The council had received reports of people walking along the tops of the ruin's walls, causing flint from the building to fall to the ground, as well as damage to the fence at the base of the tower and stones "gouged out" of graves.

Police have confirmed they are investigating reports of criminal damage at the site between June 10 and 12.

A project to stabilise the walls and tower was completed in 2016, after which the ruins, including a Millennium Garden, were reopened to the public.

Flint has fallen from the top of the walls of St Margaret's Ruined Church in Hopton after reports of criminal damage between June 10 and 12. Picture: Hopton Parish Council.Flint has fallen from the top of the walls of St Margaret's Ruined Church in Hopton after reports of criminal damage between June 10 and 12. Picture: Hopton Parish Council.

The parish council said: "It is unbelievable that certain members of our community show such little respect for this Grade II listed building, with parts of the walls dating back one thousand years.

"Saying what a shame it has been vandalised does not adequately reflect the anger and frustration felt.

"We had hoped that Hopton residents would take ownership of the ruin and protect and preserve what little heritage there is left in the village.

"Yet this hasn't happened and the peace and tranquillity of the Millennium Garden has been shattered by the few who have given no thought to their actions, and costly consequences," the council said.

Hopton Parish Council say that parts of a gravestone were removed from the grounds of St Margaret's Ruined Church. Picture: Hopton Parish Council.Hopton Parish Council say that parts of a gravestone were removed from the grounds of St Margaret's Ruined Church. Picture: Hopton Parish Council.

The Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust has been contacted with a view to carrying out an assessment of the area.

The trust has previously said the flint, brick and stone structure is increasingly fragile and at risk of erosion and loss.

The parish council said the recent wet weather had softened the lime mortar and flint was falling away from the walls.

A police SNAP meeting held on Thursday (June 13) was attended by members of the public.

Police are investigating reports of criminal damage at Hopton ruined church. Picture: Nick ButcherPolice are investigating reports of criminal damage at Hopton ruined church. Picture: Nick Butcher

"Everyone was shocked and upset at this mindless vandalism," the parish council said.

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The council has advised people to take care when visiting the Millennium Garden and ruin.

Due to its Grade II listing, any fallen flint has to stay in place to establish if it can be repaired.

Cllr Carl Annison, of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said: "I'm truly saddened by these events.

"I have raised this issue also with Carl Smith, council leader, to highlight this again at his monthly meeting with the superintendent."

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