THE theft of around 500 coping stones from a 13th century church has left a parish reeling.
The half-moon shaped stones were stolen overnight from Earnley Parish Church on Sunday.
Father Steve Davies said: “These stones are very old and rare and have probably been stolen to order to satisfy someone’s greed.
“These stones are like gold dust.”
He said the Grade-I listed church had been ‘desecrated’ and ‘vandalised’ after the theft of the precious stones which formed the perimeter of the building’s ancient walls.
He thinks the stones may have been purchased before the theft and stolen to order, as they are very expensive and highly sought after.
“If you saw anything unusual or have an old building being restored or converted in your locality requiring this type of stone please inform the police who would be very grateful for any assistance the public can offer in tracking down these perpetrators,” said Father Steve.
The theft was discovered in the early hours of Monday morning by a resident walking her dog.
Father Steve is now requesting help from the public to track down the thieves and help to get the stones back to their rightful home.
“Somebody must have seen something,” he said.
If the coping stones had been removed by hand ‘it would have taken some time’, he said.
But if the stones were pulled off the wall with a machine it would have caused a lot of noise.
“To have stolen about 100ft length of wall amounting to about 500 stones and bricks would have taken some time to have accomplished,” said Father Steve.
The coping stones were pulled from the wall between 6pm on Sunday and 9am on the Monday morning.
“This is a very sad occurrence that someone could have done this to such a lovely sacred building,” said Father Steve.
Witnesses to any suspicious activity in Earnley over the last week or anyone with information about the theft of the stones should call Sussex Police on 101 with information.
Alternatively, witnesses to the theft can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.