Mendlesham priest touched by help offers after Three Wise Men vandalised

Father Philip Gray with the figurines of the Three Wise Men which were damaged
Father Philip Gray with the figurines of the Three Wise Men which were damaged

A clergyman says he has been touched by offers of support after figures of the Three Wise Men were vandalised at his church.

The trio of figurines were decapitated by vandals as they stood in a Nativity scene outside St Mary’s Church in Mendlesham.

The incident happened at some point between the evening of January 5 and the morning of January 6.

Since the vandalism, Father Philip Gray and his wife Anne say they have been “overwhelmed” with phone calls and emails of support.

“We can’t thank people enough for their support, which has been touching,” said Father Gray.

“Within days, we had three people offering to help repair the Wise Men and others inquiring if there was any fundraising going on to fix or even replace them.

“The figurines have belonged to the church for about 70 years and have been on display at the front of the church for the last 20 years.

“Every year, we replace the shepherds to make the Epiphany crib. Children especially love them. Everyone is very upset.”

The hand-painted figures stand about 1ft (0.3m) tall.

The illuminated Nativity scene is placed each year on the front wall of the church, next to the church gates.

John Howard, spokesman for the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, said: “It is always sad when vandals strike anywhere in our Suffolk communities.

“Our churches are at the very hearts of the communities they serve.

“Many Christians give their time voluntarily to make a difference to others’ lives, which makes vandalism at a church especially sad.

“I would support Suffolk Constabulary’s appeal for information on this vandalism.”

Anyone with information about the incident should call police on 101, quoting crime reference number 37/1202/17.