Thieves take 300-year-old tapestry in Sunderland raid

Image caption,
The tapestry dates from the early 1800s

A 300-year-old French tapestry has been stolen from a former stately home in Sunderland.

The tapestry, which is 12ft (3.6 metres) high and 10ft (3 metres) wide, was taken from Doxford House, along with a quantity of copper piping.

Police think thieves may quickly try to sell the tapestry, which has been in the house since the early 1800s.

The privately-owned property was built in the 1750s by William Johnson and is a grade II-listed building.

Northumbria Police said they were unsure exactly when the property was broken into, but have appealed to anyone who may be offered the distinctive tapestry to contact them.

Insp Cheryl Warcup said: "It's likely the thieves will try and sell on the tapestry which is quite distinctive and recognisable.

"I would urge anyone who sees it for sale, or has any information about the burglary, to contact the police so that we can return it to its owner."

'I am gutted'

The building is owned by JJT Development, which bought it more than two years ago with a view to turning it into a hotel.

The firm now hopes to sell the property with planning permission for flats attached.

A spokesman said they had had a lot of problems with vandalism and had spent thousands of pounds on security but felt they could not do anything else to protect it.

He said: "I am gutted. It's part of the heritage of Sunderland."

Doxford House was known as Silksworth House until the 1960s

It is currently on the English Heritage at risk register.

The tapestry, which hung in the building's main hallway, was bought by the Beckwith family, who owned the house from 1830 to 1890.

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