INTRUDERS in St Matthew’s, Withernsea, in East Yorkshire, had left empty-handed, it was thought — until it was time to ring the bell for Sunday service six days later.
The break-in at St Matthew’s, Withernsea, in east Yorkshire, was reported on Monday of last week. Although the intruders had broken cellar doors, a preliminary search suggested that nothing had been stolen. On Sunday, however, the electronic control for the church bell was switched on — and there was silence. “It didn’t occur to us to look up,” the Vicar of the South Holderness Coast Benefice, the Revd Martin Faulkner, told BBC Humberside.
The bell had “a special place” in the hearts of the Withernsea community, he said: it was rung every week during Clap for Carers and to commemorate local people who had died from Covid. “The loss of the bell will be felt right across the community.”
“I’m calling — but it just keeps ringing and ringing”
So he church “would appreciate the return of its bell to the church grounds with no questions asked”.
The damage to the cellar doors was caused when the thieves dropped the 18-inch-tall bronze bell 30ft from its mountings to the ground. They then used the church’s wheelie bin to transport it away. Replacing it and fixing the damaged belfry and doors is expected to cost about £8000.
St Matthew’s was completed in 1935 to an Arts and Crafts design by Sir William Milner of the London firm of Milner & Craze. It was given Grade II listed status in 2007, as a “well-executed example of the work of nationally renowned church architects of the inter-war period”.
A spokesperson for Humberside Police appealed for information, and said: “At the time of reporting, it was not thought that anything had been stolen in the church and that the extensive damage to the cellar and doors were the main areas of concern. However, it has now been discovered that the bell has been taken.”