Organ pipes stolen from West Sussex church - 'Unusual and disconcerting'

An investigation has been launched after organ pipes were stolen from a grade I-listed church in West Sussex.
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The theft happened at St John The Divine Church in Patching, near Worthing, overnight between Friday, May 12 and Saturday 13th.

The theft also caused damage to historic equipment at the Norman church and is expected to cost thousands of pounds to repair or replace, according to Sussex Police’s rural crime team.

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Churchwarden Kath Hutchinson said: “On Saturday morning, I found the organ damaged and possibly irreparable. It’s an old church and old organ. It’s got quite a lot of pipes on it.

"We’re not sure of the extent of the damage yet. We want to raise awareness and encourage people to be aware. There needs to be a deterrent.”

Kath said it is an ‘unusual’ crime – especially for the area.

"It’s a lovely old church built in 1203,” she said. “It’s got many interesting features and it’s such a shame for this to happen in an otherwise low-crime area.

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"People usually go for roof lead. It’s clearly marked that we have that covered in SmartWater which can be traced.

An investigation has been launched after organ pipes were stolen from a grade I-listed church in Patching, near Worthing. Photo: St John The Divine ChurchAn investigation has been launched after organ pipes were stolen from a grade I-listed church in Patching, near Worthing. Photo: St John The Divine Church
An investigation has been launched after organ pipes were stolen from a grade I-listed church in Patching, near Worthing. Photo: St John The Divine Church

"The church is open every day and is very popular for people walking in the Downs. It’s quite unusual and disconcerting that these incidents are moving into our villages.”

Kath praised the ‘excellent’ police response, adding: “It was a surprise and took me a few minutes to realise what had happened.

"You shouldn’t let people do things like that so I phoned the police. People shouldn’t accept vandalism. People shouldn’t behave in that way.

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"A scene of crime officer came the next day and was very helpful and very thorough.”

An investigation has been launched after organ pipes were stolen from a grade I-listed church in Patching, near Worthing. Photo: St John The Divine ChurchAn investigation has been launched after organ pipes were stolen from a grade I-listed church in Patching, near Worthing. Photo: St John The Divine Church
An investigation has been launched after organ pipes were stolen from a grade I-listed church in Patching, near Worthing. Photo: St John The Divine Church

Anyone who saw or heard anything on the night of the incident is asked to contact police by calling 101, quoting reference 47230088487.

The church was built on the site of a former wooden church that had been there since the year 900. The church guide can be viewed on The Friends of Clapham and Patching Churches' website.