A GEORGIAN organ, said to be a favourite of Sir Edward Elgar, has been severely damaged by vandals at a church in the Malvern Hills where the composer spent much of his life.
In the assault on the Grade I-listed Pendock Old Church, in Worcestershire, organ pipes were ripped out, Norman stonework was smashed in an attempt to remove a wall safe, and a bronze plaque in memory of the botanist and explorer Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, a former director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, was damaged, possibly beyond repair.
CHURCHES CONSERVATION TRUSTStonework smashed when a wall safe was removed
“In terms of our national heritage, the organ is really significant,” George Reynolds of the Churches Conservation Trust which cares for the church, near Tewksbury, said. “We believe Elgar played it on numerous occasions, and there are reports that he commissioned music for it. It is quite devastating that such a beautiful organ has been ruined and is now unplayable. It was regularly used for recitals and concerts. The bill to return it to working condition will be in the tens of thousands of pounds.”
He said that the incident was another example of heritage crime, which has increased by 75 per cent in the past year. “This is part of a nationwide problem,” he said. “It’s a mix of wanton vandalism and crimes planned for financial gain. It’s not just metal-theft: we’ve had stained glass stolen to order.”
To combat that, the Trust is organising what it believes to be the first heritage-crime forum at All Saints’ Worcester, next Friday, involving police, heritage groups, the Church, the Scrap Metal Dealers Association, insurers, and the public. “We will be telling people what to look out for, engaging the community and getting them on-side to know what is important to protect these buildings,” Mr Reynolds said.