Stone statue of knight stolen from Ledbury church
A small stone statue of a knight, believed to be a war memorial to a man who died in the Crusades, has been stolen from a church near Ledbury.
Police said thieves used a hammer and chisel to cut it from a window frame at St Michael's Church in Castle Frome.
Church warden Louise Manning said: "To most people this statue is of no value at all, but for a collector of medieval art it has huge value.
"This isn't an opportunist job, because they had the right tools."
End Quote Anni Holden Diocese of Hereford
People don't normally go about with a chisel in their bag ready to chip at a piece of stone and take it home with them”
She added: "At the end of the day it is an object, a church is about people and community, but it is sad that someone can come into our building and desecrate it in this way."'Stolen to order'
The carving, depicting a knight holding a heart, is about 9in (22cms) high and 6 in (15cms) wide.
Church historians believe it was dedicated to a knight who died in the 11th or 12th Century fighting in the Crusades and may have been a member of the de Lacy family who built the church.
Police said the statue was taken between Sunday morning and Wednesday night.
Anni Holden from the Diocese of Hereford said: "We encourage our churches to be open so that people can wander in and have a look around, so to have someone go in and steal things is unfair.
"People don't normally go about with a chisel in their bag ready to chip at a piece of stone and take it home with them, so there is a concern that these things are being stolen to order."