War memorial statue in Eversholt stolen for second time

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image source, Venetia Barrington
image captionSt Michael the Archangel is the patron saint of soldiers and police

A "local landmark" on top of a war memorial has been stolen for a second time.

The "irreplaceable" artwork depicting St Michael the Archangel was taken from the graveyard at St John the Baptist church in Eversholt, Bedfordshire.

Church warden Rita Chidley said it was last seen on Sunday, with a villager noticing it was missing on Tuesday.

It was previously taken in 2000, but was returned by a London antiques dealer when he noticed it was stolen.

image source, Venetia Barrington
image captionA villager notice the statue was missing on Tuesday as he sat in the nearby pub, Ms Barrington said

Eversholt resident Venetia Barrington, said: "It is very upsetting, there are a lot of relatives in the village who have their loved ones' names on the war memorial.

"I am upset that someone could do this. It is a local landmark, it is so disrespectful."

The sculpture was created and designed by Edward Aveling Green, who is buried a "stone's throw" from his work, and it is of "great significance" and "irreplaceable", she said.

When the statue was returned 19 years ago "we thought it to be totally secure for the future, but evidently not", said Ms Barrington.

image source, Rob Farrow/Geograph
image captionThe statue used to be outside St John the Baptist church in Eversholt

Mrs Chidley said: "I feel shattered, really upset. I am worried where it is now. It has real prominence in the village."

Church secretary Carolyn Howell said she had contacted the police and would alert a stolen artwork website about the incident.

Bedfordshire Police has been asked to comment.

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