A SPATE of raids which have seen several pieces of famous Mouseman furniture stolen from rural churches has left parishioners devastated.
North Yorkshire Police officers have launched an investigation after thieves broke into churches in Harrogate and the surrounding area between October and December.
The warden of the ancient St Oswald’s Church, in Arncliffe has described the theft of two carved oak chairs in the last fortnight as an “attack on the church’s history”. The church, which is built on Norman foundations, has now been locked during the day over fears the thieves will return.
Church warden Pat Campbell said: “It’s upset a lot of people as it’s our history and the chairs have been in the church a long time. We get money stolen from the offertory box and that’s bad, but somehow taking chairs seems much worse as it’s our property. We also have a soldier’s pike from the Battle of Flodden, which dates back to 1513, and they have tried to get it off the wall and damaged it.
“We have always taken the decision to leave the church open during the hours of daylight, but this week we have locked the church for the first time just until we decide what we are going to do as we don’t want them coming back.”
The first theft happened between October 16 and October 28 when an octagonal oak table was taken from All Saints’ Church, in Kirby Overblow. The table, which is valued at £600, has a Robert “Mouseman” Thompson signature carving of a mouse on it and an inscription.
The second theft occurred on November 9 at The Church of Immaculate Conception, in Sicklinghall. Thieves took a wooden table from the rear of the church, which is valued between £2,500 and £3,000. The table bears a brass plaque and also has the Robert Thompson mouse carved prominently onto one of the legs.
Thieves struck again between November 20 and November 26 at Burnsall and Appletreewick Parochial Church. They took a £2,000 solid oak bishop’s chair, with the Mouseman signature carved onto it.
And on December 2, a Mouseman bible stand was stolen from St Peter’s Church, in Sicklinghall.
Police officers are urging anyone with information to contact them on 0845 6060247.