Update on Stolen 15th century panels

The shock of the recent damage to and theft of 15th-century artworks at Holy Trinity Church at Torbryan in Devon has led to a surge of support and offers of help from members of the public and high profile figures for The Trust and our work to protect historic churches at risk.

The eminent historian and TV presenter Dan Cruickshank has described the theft as ‘profoundly shocking’. He said:

"Our parish churches are one of our most precious cultural treasures; repositories of life, art and customs, in many ways miniscule museums that we so often take for granted. They inspire, they inform, they delight and by their very nature they must be kept open for, most important of all, they are places of peace, contemplation, meditation and prayer that refresh the soul."

With the backing of well-known names including Loyd Grossman, Dan Cruickshank and Candida Lycett Green, we are appealing to the public for support of our recently launched campaign, History for the Future: Protecting England’s Treasures. The campaign aims to protect features and artefacts which have been placed in the care of the Trust for safe keeping so they can be enjoyed by local people, tourists, volunteers, students and by those new to heritage.

Loyd Grossman, the Chairman of CCT, commented:

“I strongly believe that the value of these unique works of art lies in being able to see them as they were intended, in the beauty and tranquillity of their public, historic location’.

We are asking for support for the fund to protect the hidden treasures in our collection of churches, which will help staff and volunteers learn about, categorise, conserve and protect the special features in our churches. The fund will support the our work with local people to protect these items from inappropriate care or more malicious theft or vandalism, for future generations to enjoy. This is a nationwide appeal to raise £500,000 to help protect England’s historic church features and artefacts. Over the next four years every £1 raised for the History for the Future fund will be matched by £1 from a Heritage Lottery Fund Catalyst Endowment, which will be worth up to £1million in total.

In response to the theft of the 15th-century panels from Holy Trinity Church we have put a call out to volunteers to be vigilant and take a keen eye on their local CCT church.

Our Chief Executive, Crispin Truman, said:

“It is through the invaluable support, commitment and care and attention of our volunteers for our churches that together we are able to protect and sustain our outstanding national collection of historic churches.”

The police have notified art and heritage theft agencies nationally and internationally and are following up on enquiries. We hope that the panels will eventually be recovered.