Medieval paintings left damaged

Damage to art work in St Mary's Church, Brent Eleigh ANL-160331-150818001
Damage to art work in St Mary's Church, Brent Eleigh ANL-160331-150818001

Some of the country’s most important religious wall paintings have been vandalised in the latest in a string of bizarre attacks on remote churches in Suffolk.

Shocked church helpers at St Mary’s in Brent Eleigh near Lavenham discovered that the rare 13th century paintings behind the altar have been defaced, apparently scored and scraped with a sharp instrument.

Damage to art work in St Mary's Church, Brent Eleigh ANL-160331-150818001

Damage to art work in St Mary's Church, Brent Eleigh ANL-160331-150818001

It is the latest in a string of bizarre attacks on churches in the area - in other incidents pages have been ripped from Bibles at two churches and the vandal has urinated inside the building.

Suffolk police are now investigating all the incidents which it is believed may be linked.

Experts will now be called in to examine the damage to the paintings, described by leading academic and historian Dr John Dunn as:”A wonderful triptych of altar wall paintings in the chancel which rank as some of the finest and most exquisite medieval wall paintings in Britain.”

He said the images, hidden under 16th century Reformers whitewash until the 1960s must have astounded the peasant congregation with its definition of Christianity in three panels..

The 13th Century paintings at St Mary's Chuch, Brent Eleigh ANL-160331-150829001

The 13th Century paintings at St Mary's Chuch, Brent Eleigh ANL-160331-150829001

The Rev Carol Mansell priest in charge at St Mary’s said:”It is a terrible and shocking attack - the church is normally left open and the damage was only discovered when someone from the village called in yesterday.

“It is also very disturbing that someone could do something like this - deliberately target religious paintings. The damage is quite severe and we will have to call in experts to assess how bad it really is.

“But the police are investigating because it is the latest in a string of odd attacks on churches in this area - nothing has been taken but pages have been torn from Bible and evidence of someone urinating.

“It is not normal behaviour and we must have concerns for the state of mind of the person responsible.”

St Mary's Church, Brent Eleigh ANL-160331-150806001

St Mary's Church, Brent Eleigh ANL-160331-150806001