Silver dating back to 1700s stolen from Malmesbury Abbey

The Reverend Oliver Ross stands in the abbey next to the medieval reconstruction of the empty tomb of King Athelstan.
Malmesbury's vicar, the Reverend Oliver Ross, said a "sense of heritage" had been taken

Historic silver dating back to the 1700s was among the items stolen from a 12th Century abbey in a burglary.

Thieves took a number of "goblets and ornaments" from the 800-year-old Malmesbury Abbey, as well as money from the donation box.

The Reverend Oliver Ross said some of the items were more than 300-years-old and one dated back to the time of King Charles II.

"They have stolen from the children a sense of heritage" he added.

The side of a police forensics van, part of a police car and the abbey in the background.
Police forensic teams were called to Malmesbury Abbey on 16 November

Mr Ross said: "They took the modern silver, which we use every day for Communion, but also took the Georgian silver, which is part of our history.

"While it's not massively valuable, it is of great emotional significance to us."

He added he does not think whoever stole the items had "even taken a moment to think what they're doing".

A tall display cabinet with empty shelves next to a medieval stone pillar.
The display cabinet that held the historic objects now has empty shelves

The vicar said he feels a "tremendous sense of disappointment" that someone would steal from a church and take away from the local heritage.

"I wouldn't steal from the House of God. Of course, following company policy, we will forgive," he said.

Mr Ross is hopeful that the items will be returned

"I would appeal to the person who did this to think again. Maybe just anonymously return them or to somebody who would give them to the abbey," he added.

Corner of the abbey showing a large stone tomb on the right, a piano in the middle, display cases at the back and a piece of red rope at the front.
The area with display cabinets for silver has now been roped off to the public.

Mr Ross said a piece of silver that was taken from the abbey a long time ago was later recovered after an attempt was made to sell it online.

Malmesbury Abbey has fully re-opened after being closed for a couple of days for police investigation work and a clean-up after a fire extinguisher was let off during the theft.

Front view of the abbey from the outside underneath a blue sky
The 12th Century Norman abbey has reopened to visitors

The vicar added that although the theft may be a "small thing" compared to what the historic abbey had been through in the past, including plague, fire and executions, it was still "sad".

Malmesbury Abbey is a Norman building which dates from about 1180.

It has been a Christian site since the 7th Century when a monastery was founded.

Police are investigating the theft and asked anyone with information to contact them.

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