Ancient 17th Century bell stolen from old Skelton church

Image caption The bell was one of a pair and dates back to the 17th Century

Scrap metal dealers have been warned to be on alert for an ancient stolen church bell taken in Teesside.

Custodian John Connolly said it would have taken two people to lift the bell, weighing 7st 9lb (50kg) from a display at All Saints Church in Skelton.

One of a pair, the bell dates from the 17th Century.

Mr Connolly said the bell was "priceless" in terms of historical value.

It is believed it was taken on 1 May when the church was unlocked.

"It would have taken a couple of strapping chaps and a trolley to shift.

"It probably has not much in the way of financial worth but it's historic value is beyond calculation," Mr Connolly said.

Image copyright Friends of Old Skelton Church
Image caption It is believed the bell was taken when the church was left unlocked on 1 May

Cleveland Police is investigating and a warning has been issued to scrap metal dealers through The British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA).

The church has not been operational for more than 100 years but is open for visitors and displays.

It is a Grade II-listed building, and is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT).

The bell had been on loan to All Saints from Kirkleatham Old Hall Museum for the past three years.

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