Vandals strike at refurbished fire-hit church

A VILLAGE church, which was seriously damaged by fire in 2010, has been vandalised - just weeks after the building was officially reopened following extensive refurbishment.

Ball bearing gun-wielding vandals took aim at the glass porch doors of St Mary Magdalene Church in Whatlington, damaging four of the door’s six panels.

The Grade II Listed 13th Century church was devastated by fire in July 2010, which destroyed much of the building’s historic roof.

Generous supporters helped raise money towards the £800,000 needed to restore the building.

The church was officially reopened in February.

But the vandalism has come as a blow to the supporters of the church.

Churchwarden Jeffrey Bridges told the Observer: “At a quiet rural church we would not have expected to be vulnerable to such stupidity and how sad that a church should be held with such a lack of respect.”

Although the building is insured, the church will have to pay an excess.

And repairing the damaged door could prove difficult.

Mr Bridges explains: “The porch doors were newly glazed last year as part of the restoration having formerly had just wire mesh in the openings.

“The glass is laminated and has been left with star shaped damage in several places across four of the six glazed sections, much as one would expect from bullet type damage.

“We are of course insured, however we will have to pay an excess of £250.

“As the estimates come in, it is becoming clear that the repair is potentially difficult.

“The glass is held in place with a special machine-made oak frame which has been glued in place and which is likely to be very difficult to remove in order to be able to change the glass.”

The incident is believed to have happened some time between April 7 and 8.30am on April 10.

Anyone who saw what happened, or anyone with any information about the incident, is asked to contact Sussex Police on 101.