Video: church left in ruins after yobs set Bibles alight

A 19th century Cambridgeshire church has been gutted following a massive fire, reportedly started when yobs set Bibles and prayer books alight.

Watch a BBC report on the story

The news comes in the same week as it emerged youths disrupted a Roman Catholic church service, running to the front and intimidating the congregation.

The horrific fire in Westry, near March, left the village church in tatters with only the external brickwork remaining. The incident is being treated as suspicious.

Smoke

Church caretaker John Arnold, 74, arrived at the church to see a cross and a Bible engulfed in flames.

He said: “When I opened the door I first thought it was dust coming in the windows and then I realised it was smoke.

“I had thought it was strange because the door was unlocked.

“The smoke was really thick and I could see the Bible was burning and the wooden cross that we had made.”

Heartbreaking

Church rector, the Revd Anthony Chandler, described the scene as “heartbreaking”.

Mr Arnold said that the church had also had some windows broken recently.

On Tuesday a message with the words: “Father forgive them as they know not what they do” was left by a well wisher outside the church.

Disruption

On Wednesday The Daily Telegraph reported that a Roman Catholic church service had been disrupted by youths.

The priest, Father Paul Daly, criticised police officers for not dealing with the teenagers properly.

At the church, in Heywood, Lancashire, the police were called after six teenagers entered the building and ran up to the front.

Some of the teens shouted at the congregation through the microphone.

Threatening

Father Daly offered to let the teenagers stay if they behaved but after they continued to act threateningly he called the police and abandoned the church service.

Officers dispersed the youths but failed to take the names of those involved.

Demolished

More than 20 arson attacks on UK churches were reported in thepress between May 2008 and May 2009.

The severity of an attack against Westcotes United Reformed Church in Leicester led to the church hall having to be demolished.

Only two months before the blaze, the building had been renovated at a cost of £30,000.

St Marie’s Roman Catholic Church in Rugby was attacked during a church service.

The congregation discovered burning sheet music in an adjacent meeting room shortly after the service ended.

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