Shock at 'satanic' attack on historic church

A SATANIC symbol was daubed on an historic Yorkshire church and paraffin poured through its letterbox in what church leaders believe was a deliberate attempt to burn it down.

Vandals scrawled the words "**** your God" and "Hail Grimm" – possibly a reference to the fairytale-writing brothers – on St James's Church at the bottom of Hollins Hill in Baildon, Bradford.

The building, known locally as the White Church, is a wooden tongue-and-groove structure and a Grade II listed building.

They also daubed a 6ft high pentagram, or pentangle, a religious symbol sometimes linked to Satanism or the occult.

The attack has disgusted and shocked members of the parish.

The vicar, Canon John Nowell, said the grafitti would be removed but he wanted people to see it beforehand.

"I wanted people to see it for themselves to see what sort of people we have among us in society," he said.

"We're hoping villagers will get talking, uncover whoever has done this and tell the police."

Because the symbols are in paint on a wooden surface they will have to be removed by specialists.

The damage was discovered on Christmas Day by the Reverend Paul Deo, who is Baildon's mission priest.

He said: "It was the smell I noticed first. The carpet round the letterbox was soaked. When I looked inside the box it was swimming with the liquid and floating on top of it was a dead, used match. This was a deliberate attempt to burn our church down."

Mr Deo first spotted a smashed window at the back of the church and when he went outside, he saw the painted words and symbols.

He added: "People turning up for the service were absolutely distraught but we went ahead, only we didn't dare light any candles."

Don Edbury, whose wife Joan is churchwarden at St James's, said: "This wasn't mindless vandalism. You don't get drunks turning out of pubs with paint and paraffin. Whoever did this had it all planned.

"As well as swear words, it was signed Hail Grimm – we don't know if that's linked to the Grimm brothers' dark fairytales, someone's tag or another Satanic reference. We really haven't a clue."

The church was recently dismantled, refurbished and moved several feet to make way for a housing development.

The move was the second in its history. In 1904 it was transported 200 miles from Essex on a traction engine, 12 years after it was built.

Mr Edbury said officers from the church are now considering getting CCTV cameras to keep a watch over the premises.

Police confirmed accelerants had been used in the attack.

He said that last summer the word "Grimm" had been carved in wood at the front of the church at about shoulder level.

Mr Edbury said the damage to the church could be the work of a group of Satanists or an individual..