Churches,  Heritage,  Heritage Crime,  The Churches Conservation Trust

21st-Century Iconoclasm?

Heritage Crime…

Little Cawthorpe, Lincolnshire, St. Helen’s Church

The present church of St. Helen was constructed in 1859 to replace a medieval church, this being the third building on this site. Records indicate the earliest church having been founded here in the 1100s.

Its stained glass, designed and made by Lavers, Barraud and Westlake, was installed between 1860 and 1890. The windows were painstakingly created by highly skilled artists and craftsmen during these years. The south windows depict Christ and the Doctors and the Presentation in the Temple. The impressive west window, donated by the inimitably named Lysimachus Parker, who died in 1860, shows Noah’s Ark, the Baptism of Christ and the Crossing of the Red Sea.

In April 2021 the glass was been attacked by vandals. Carefully aimed projectiles fractured very specific areas of the glass. Several heads and faces of human figures and animals along with some ball-flower ornament were smashed.

Examination of the centres-of-impact reveal circular fractures measuring about 3mm-5mm in diameter, indicating an airgun pellet, a small stone fired by a catapult or other high-velocity projectile. Some of the damage is at a height too great to have been attacked from ground level except with some kind of long implement using exceptional force.

This crime is particularly upsetting for the people who live in Little Cawthorpe, the smallest parish in Lindsey and whose residents cherish this church. Local people saved this building from certain demolition in 1996 after it was declared structurally unsound.

The Churches Conservation Trust became involved in that year and the charity now owns this historically significant building, keeping it open for everyone to visit and use as a community space. The CCT is now raising the funds necessary for the repair of this significantly historical glass. If you would like to donate, please contact north@thecct.org.uk.