Heritage Crime and Heritage Conservation in Wiltshire

Unfortunately for the rest of us, Britain’s heritage buildings sometimes attract unsavoury characters who think it’s ‘fun’ to damage historic and beautiful works of art. This is always heart-breaking and mind-boggling in equal measure. Does this small minority of people not understand the value of beauty, identity and place? Do they care neither for past nor future? Do they know that what they destroy may be irreplaceable? We don’t know, but we do know that it happens quite a lot.

This was the case in north Wiltshire last June, when vandals struck at old All Saints’ Church in Leigh. Swift volunteer action was key to raising the alarm with our staff on the ground and subsequently we were quickly able to assess the damage and put measures in place for repairs.

And repair it we did. The altar rail (see photo below) had been severely damaged and has been skilfully and painstakingly repaired to its former glory (photo below, click on arrow on right) by professional carpenter Adrian Daglish. The mindless graffiti that had been scribbled on the wall has vanished thanks to the expert conservation work completed by a team from Granville & Burbidge, and visitors can again enjoy this tiny yet truly beautiful church. The repairs were overseen by Andrew Townsend Architects.

This building has quite a story, actually: All Saints’ is what is left of a medieval church near the banks of the Thames, which was moved to a drier environment in the 19th century. For some unknown reason, this part of the church —the chancel— was left behind. This site is a popular spot for walkers and some television viewers might recognise it as the background for the ‘Poldark’ series.

The sad truth is that churches are prime targets of crime. While lead roofs prove an irresistible temptation for those who commerce with metals, it seems this particular attack was perpetrated by people who just wanted to have “fun” at the expense of us all. So, to add insult to injury, in this specific case we are talking about folks who acted with maliciousness.

Unfortunately, funds put towards repairing damaged churches as a result of crime are diverted from money destined to conservation projects. That is why we need your assistance. If you love historic churches and want to help, please consider visiting this page and making a donation. This way, we can continue to do what we do best: conserving and making accessible our collective heritage for everybody’s enjoyment.