‘Delight’ as records of births, marriages and deaths stolen from Whitton church are found in field
PUBLISHED: 20:13 11 January 2018 | UPDATED: 21:46 11 January 2018
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Forty years of a Suffolk community’s history has been saved after a safe containing church records was found dumped in a field.
Hundreds of records of births, deaths and marriages had been stolen along with silverware worth “many thousands” of pounds when a gang of thieves broke in to St Mary and St Botolph’s church in Whitton, Ipswich, overnight from December 30-31.
Revd Mary Sokanovic, the priest in charge of the church, said after the theft it had come as a “huge blow” to the community – but she is now “absolutely delighted” the records have been recovered.
“The important thing is the births, deaths and marriage that represent the high points and low points of life in the community have been saved,” she added. “It’s important for all those really special moments to be recorded.”
With some of the records dating back as far as 1978, Rev Sokanovic said there was a risk that entire generations of the community’s history could have been lost.
The safe containing the records was discovered on Tuesday by a Mid Suffolk District Council employee in the area of Pipps Ford Lane near Needham Market. Almost all of the damage, including the parish record books, were found inside.
Although the records have suffered water damage, they had been taken for conservation work at Ipswich Museum and the Suffolk Records Office.
Rev Sokanovic has praised the work of PCSOs Lousie Manning and Hayley Stevenson, who she said worked “tenaciously” to return the records.
None of the silverware, which includes religious artefacts, an Elizabethan flagon, plates, chalices, communion cups and a wafer box, have been found – and police are appealing for witnesses.
Two men have been charged with receiving stolen goods in connection with the burglary.
Ionut Avadanei, 19, of Crescent Road, Ipswich, has been released on bail to appear at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court on February 5. Vasile Tecaru, 20, of Mountbatten Court, Ipswich, has also been charged with attempted burglary, relating to a property in Norwich Road, Barham, between April 10-12. He made a first appearance before magistrates last Friday, where he was bailed for a next hearing at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court on January 30.
Anyone with information should call Ipswich West Safer Neighbourhood Team on 101 quoting reference 73/18, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.