South East Wales

St Mary's Church, Llanfair Kilgeddin, targeted by thieves

A damaged lamp at St Mary's Church, Llanfair Kilgeddin Image copyright Friends of Friendless Churches
Image caption Thieves damaged numerous items in the church

"Monstrously disrespectful" thieves have wrecked and ransacked a church in Monmouthshire.

St Mary's Church in Llanfair Kilgeddin, between Abergavenny and Raglan, was targeted between 2 and 3 August.

An oak door, valued at about £1,000, was damaged, along with four oil lamps dating back 300 years. Metal organ pipes and a brass plaque were stolen.

Matthew Saunders, director of Friends of Friendless Churches, said: "They left it looking like a bomb landed."

Gwent Police is investigating the theft and Mr Saunders said he thought thieves were targeting metal inside the building.

Image copyright Gwent Police
Image caption A metal plaque, altar crosses and candlesticks were among the items stolen by thieves
Image copyright Friends of Friendless Churches
Image caption St Mary's Church is one of 20 in Wales owned and run by Friends of Friendless Churches

"It's completely absurd because the metal is worth practically nothing," he said.

"We're very upset by it, but we will not be deterred from opening the church."

Friends of Friendless Churches saved St Mary's from closure when it took over in the late 1980s. The building is medieval in origin.

Mr Saunders said the total value of the theft and damage was not fully known, adding: "It's both petty and monstrously disrespectful."

A decision on what to do about the missing pipes from the mid-19th Century organ will be taken when the church committee meets in October.

Image copyright Friends of Friendless Churches
Image caption Furniture was stolen from the altar in the break-in
Image copyright Friends of Friendless Churches