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Holy Rood church: Vandals ransack history Swindon church

The vandalism of a historic Swindon church has shocked the town.

Church of the Holy Rood in Lawn has been broken into and vandalised (Image: Christ Church Swindon)

The Grade II-listed Church of the Holy Rood in Lawns dates back to the 13th century and was, until the mid-1800s, the only church in Swindon

It has become a picturesque spot for pedestrians strolling through the expansive Old Town park, and the remains surrounding it are also of great historical interest.

But earlier this summer, vandals broke into the place of worship on several occasions to spray graffiti, smash locks, and topple monuments.

Vandals targeted the church on several occasions (Image: Christ Church Swindon)

Photos of the aftermath distressed volunteers and parishioners at the nearby Christ Church, who have been working with the police and their MP to help find those responsible for the criminal damage.

A spokesperson for the church said: "The vandalism has made us very sad as Holy Rood is an important part of both Swindon’s and Christ Church’s history.

"We are hoping that the damage can be repaired so that we can still hold occasional services there - for example our 5.30am Easter Morning Dawn Service, which is very special and is always well attended.

"We are looking forward to working with South Swindon Parish Council and Swindon Borough Council to find a way to make this wonderful Old Town building more accessible for people to visit on a regular basis."

Police are investigating (Image: Christ Church Swindon)

A Wiltshire Police spokesman said: "We are investigating following reports of a break-in and criminal damage at Holy Rood Church, the Lawns, Swindon.

“Unknown suspects have repeatedly targeted the church on July 11, July 17, and sometime between July 17 and July 25 by graffitiing it, breaking locks, and toppling monuments.

“Our enquiries are ongoing. Anyone with information on the incidents is encouraged to contact us either online or on 101 quoting reference 54230075608."

A concerned citizen contacted South Swindon MP Sir Robert Buckland about the vandalism at the start of this month.

Mr Buckland then raised this issue with the chief constable of Wiltshire Police, who confirmed that neighbourhood policing teams would step up their patrols around the Lawn area.

A meeting was then held with the MP, police, Christ Church vicar Simon Stevenette, Swindon Borough Council, and South Swindon Parish Council.

Mr Buckland added: "Holy Rood Church was a site of Christian worship here in Swindon for many centuries and, following a worrying development, I visited the church on the Lawns.

"There has been serious criminal damage reported within the church itself. The police are working very hard to try to identify those responsible, and I am confident that they will resolve that.

"However, in the longer term, the conservation of this important historical monument has to be upmost in our minds.

"I have been talking with my friends in the Christ Church parish to establish the level of will that there is to conserve and enhance the church.

"Whilst the church is no longer consecrated, it is in fact council property, and it is incumbent on all of us to work hard to make sure that we can allow this site to continue to be enjoyed for generations to come.

"I think there’s clearance work that needs to be undertaken at the site so that it can be opened up a little and made more of our community life.

"This will also help to ensure that we stop repeats of the sort of vandalism that we have seen here in the last few weeks.

"I will continue working with local agencies to help to make sure that this important historical monument, and a place of worship for many of us, is maintained for future generations."


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