School children across Wisbech are to learn about the importance of the town’s historic St Peter’s Church after a daily round of vandalism forced it to be closed to the public.
Father Paul West said the difficult decision to close the church was made after children as young as 10 and 12 were running amok and causing havoc inside the 900 year-old building during the first week or so of the six weeks summer holidays.
He said church wardens were spending hours clearing up mess left by the young vandals who tore up prayer books and wrecked toys in the creche area.
“It is a very precious building and people use it a lot during the week, going in to pray and light candles. But unfortunately we have had to keep it locked for a few weeks. We hope to break the culprits of the habit and then we can re-open the church. It is such an important part of the community, I can’t imagine Wisbech without St Peter’s.
“We were really concerned what they might do next. The church at Westry had weeks of vandalism before it was finally set on fire and the thought of fire is just too much to contemplate.
“I think the world of the children and young people of Wisbech, it really is only a small handful responsible for this behaviour and I don’t think they have any respect or understanding about the importance or the history of the church,” said Father Paul.
But he hopes to rectify that through a series of visits to schools by a theatre group as part of the Archbishop’s Community Project.
“The theatre group will be visiting schools and addressing a number of issues and the history and importance of the church will be one of those,” said Father Paul.
He continued: “It would be good if those responsible could be identified by the police on CCTV so we could talk to them about the church and why it is so important
“I don’t like closing the church, but we are the custodians of a 900 year-old building and we need to keep it safe for future generations. But I am optimistic that we will be able to re-open it in the next few weeks,” he added.