POLICE are hunting thieves who stole an unusual Saxon
carving from the family church of the Duchess of Kent.
The sandstone panel dates from the late eighth or early ninth
century, and was originally part of the shaft of a cross that stood
outside All Saints', which stands beside the ancestral home of the
Duchess's family, the Worsleys, in the village of Hovingham, in
North Yorkshire. She was baptised there in 1933.
The oblong stone, which is carved with an intricate geometric
pattern, was taken some time between 23 May and 6 June, from a
window recess inside the church. It measures just over 18 inches
tall, about ten inches across, and up to five inches thick. Police
say it is very heavy, and the thieves would have needed a vehicle
to take it away.
It was originally cut from quarries at Aislaby, near Whitby,
which were controlled in medieval times by the monks of Whitby
Abbey, who exported stone for sculptural monuments to sites across
North and East Yorkshire.
PC Nick Durkin, of North Yorkshire Police, said: "Experts have
described the stolen sculpture as unique in its form, layout, and
the quality of its carving. We are making extensive inquiries to
return this historic artefact. . . I would urge anyone who knows
its whereabouts to get in touch."
Last week, the Minister for Policing, Mike Penning, told the
House of Commons that stone theft was reaching "epidemic" levels in
parts of Britain, and should be treated as a serious organised
He said that specialist prosecutors would soon bring
"high-profile" cases against stone thieves who had switched their
activities after a government crackdown on the scrap-metal
He was responding to comments from the MP for Colne Valley, West
Yorkshire, Jason McCartney, who said that thieves had targeted
places of worship in the Kirklees district 132 times in the past
three years. He called for a "dedicated stone-theft task force" and