Reverend offers to meet vandals
A parish church regarded as one of the finest in Suffolk was saved from serious damage when, by chance, worshippers discovered a fire which had been started deliberately.
It has prompted the Rev Dr Guy Sumpter to appeal for help in keeping St Peter and Paul’s Church in Eye safe and open every day.
Recent anti-social behaviour includes two minor fires, the desecration of a figure in the Christmas crib and contents from a food bank collection box being scattered around the church.
One of the fires could have caused serious damage but it was put out by two parishioners who “providentially went into the church at just the right time,” wrote Dr Sumpter in his February church notes.
In another incident, the head and arms were broken off a figure of Jesus in the crib and the limbs were discovered in the churchyard.
The church is currently open every day to residents and visitors.
“Unfortunately, however, the privilege of having unrestricted daytime access that is enjoyed by so many people is increasingly under threat due to problems of anti-social behaviour that we have been experiencing in the church over recent months,” he said.
The people responsible “clearly have a problem of one sort or another” said Dr Sumpter, who is offering to meet them in confidence, or anyone who has information on the vandalism.
“I need hardly say that a major fire could result in the loss of what many people regard as some of Eye’s greatest treasures, some of which have a much wider significance,” he said.
In an appeal to townspeople, he added: “I ask you all to be vigilant, to visit it and use it as often as you are able and, without in any way endangering yourself or others, to promptly and appropriately report any problems in order that our open church may remain open in the future.”