After months of vandalism, the rector of Selsey’s parish church has relunctantly locked its doors between services to minimise damage.
Reverend Andrew Wilkes, known as Father Andy, said the St Peter’s Church had had repeated break-ins to the vestry and although nothing was taken, the repair costs could be substantial.
He said the short-term solution was sadly to shut up the 13th century church, which has always been open for people to come and reflect in their own time.
He said: “I’m hoping a period of closure with a sign on the front door makes whoever [did this] realise what they’ve done and that they’ve ruined it for everyone.
“There aren’t any other churches open in Selsey and very often people just sit and have a moment of quiet, quite apart from the visitors to Selsey.
“I’m sure it will be a great sorrow to people that they can’t do that.”
He said the church would be reviewing its security measures and fitting CCTV cameras with the hope of reopening the church during daylight hours in the new year.
St Peter’s Church attracts visitors from all over the world to Selsey on account of its historical significance but is struggling to pay rising mantainence costs.
The congregation of around 175 people is joined by many other people during the Christmas period. Father Andy said he hoped the people of Selsey wouldn’t be put off by the unusual circumstances and would feel free to come along.
“In the run up to Christmas, a lot of people like to have a connection with their local church,” he said.
“It’s a much-loved church in the parish and we hope that it doesn’t spoil people’s Christmas and they will still come as they do and attend the services.”
For details of Christmas service times visit www.stpetersselsey.com