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Historic stones taken from the Walsingham Estate in north Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 16:39 18 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:39 18 October 2018

The historic coping stones have been recovered. Pictures: Andrew Mclaren.

The historic coping stones have been recovered. Pictures: Andrew Mclaren.

Archant

Historic coping stones that are part of a scheduled monument and date back to the 19th century were stolen from the Walsingham Estate.

The theft has left a gap in the flint wall on the Walsingham Estate. Pictures: Andrew MclarenThe theft has left a gap in the flint wall on the Walsingham Estate. Pictures: Andrew Mclaren

They were taken from a flint wall that divides the Walsingham Abbey gardens and park.

Andrew Mclaren, Walsingham Estate’s buildings manager, said the stones would have been fitted to the wall when it was built.

He said: “About 90 coping stones were taken. They measure about 16 inches by seven inches long and are a dark Norfolk red colour.

“They were taken from Sunk Road, which is a public highway in front of the abbey.

The theft has left a gap in the flint wall on the Walsingham Estate. Pictures: Andrew MclarenThe theft has left a gap in the flint wall on the Walsingham Estate. Pictures: Andrew Mclaren

“The person who took them would have just lifted the coping stones and they would have come apart like a keystone. He must have returned to the site about three times.

“It has left a gap on one side of the wall of 20ft and another of 40ft.”

He said the theft was noticed at about 2.30pm on Monday, October 15, when the grounds were open, so the stones would have been taken around lunchtime.

He added: “It’s a pain and a nuisance. We are working elsewhere on the estate to maintain the authenticity of the old buildings. This is a listed wall at a scheduled monument.”

The mediaeval Priory at Walsingham has a long history of religious pilgrimage and dates back to the 11th century. Picture: Ian BurtThe mediaeval Priory at Walsingham has a long history of religious pilgrimage and dates back to the 11th century. Picture: Ian Burt

Police said a 41-year-old man had been charged with theft.

William Parsons, of Jewels Close, Burnham Norton, has been bailed to appear before King’s Lynn magistrates on November 2.

John Downing, agent at the Walsingham Estate, said: “It is very frustrating when thefts of this nature happen as their market value is often far exceeded by the cost of their replacement and reinstatement, which would have been the case here.

“However, following a member of our team having discovered the whereabouts of the stolen items and the swift and decisive action by our local police we hope to recover most of the stolen copings which can be reinstated without excessive cost and delay.”

The garden and grounds surrounding the abbey are famous for the ruins of the medieval Priory of our Lady of Walsingham. In the late 17th century a country house, known as Walsingham Abbey, was built over part of the ruins.

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