Heartless thieves steal entire stone path from historic Ribble Valley village church

Opportunist thieves have stolen an entire stone path from an historic village church.

By Susan Plunkett
Thursday, 10th February 2022, 2:27 pm

The shocking theft was discovered on Tuesday morning at St Ambrose Church in Grindleton in the Ribble Valley by church rector the Rev Mark Williams.

Several large, heavy York stone slabs, worth thousands of pounds, had been carefully removed from the path that leads to the entrance to the church that was built in 1803.

Rev Williams said: "I live across the road from the church but didn't see or hear anything.

The shocking sight of St Ambrose Church in Grindleton after thieves made off with stone slabs from the pathway

"Whoever stole the flags looks like they knew exactly what they were doing as they didn't leave any mess behind.

"They clearly wanted to cause as little damage as possible to the stones if they intend to sell them."

Rev Williams, who came to the village two years ago, said the theft was like stealing part of the church's history.

He added: "So many people have walked on that path, to their wedding maybe, christenings or carried on their final journey and all that history has been taken away."

Intruders carefully removed the flags from the path at St Ambrose Church in Grindleton to cause minimal damage to the stones

The Anglican parish church in the deanery of Whalley is a grade two listed building. Each of the stones taken are at least half the height of a standard headstone for a grave.

Police are investigating the theft and Rev Williams said he had been inundated with messages of support from parishioners left angered by the stone theft which seems to be a regular occurrence at churches across the county.

In August, 2020, thieves struck at St John the Evangelist Church in Worsthorne, Burnley, ripping up flagstones bordering a wall of remembrance.

Anyone with information about the theft from St Ambrose is asked to contact Lancashire Police on 101 quoting crime reference number 04/3100/80/22