Police recover medieval panels 'hacked' from Devon church

The damaged panels at Holy Trinity Church in Torbryan, Devon
Image caption The stolen panels were recovered in a police raid in south London

Two 15th Century oak panels, hacked out of a Devon church by thieves, have been recovered by police.

The decorative oak panels, showing St Victor of Marseilles and St Margaret of Antioch, were stolen from Holy Trinity Church at Torbryan, in 2013.

Met Police found them in a property in south London, after they were spotted by a collector in an online sale.

A 50-year-old man from Wales has been arrested on suspicion of theft and has been bailed by West Mercia Police.

Panels damaged

The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) said the panels, bearing paintings of the two saints, were of "national importance".

It said they were one of only a handful of such artworks in England which survived the Reformation, when the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope.

The CCT said the panels had been damaged and would cost £7,000 to repair before they could be returned to the church which had been fitted with alarms.

Chief executive, Crispin Truman, said: "The theft of these unique artworks was a real blow, so we're delighted they are now back in our hands.

"Unfortunately the damage caused as the thieves hacked them out of the church will cost a lot to put right."

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