Virginia Barton

26 March 2015: Oliver Twist

26 March 2015




Not QUITE within living memory but, not that long ago, the robbing of a church was classed as sacrilege and punished with the death penalty, so heinous a crime was it considered. Mercifully we live in more civilised times — at least in this country.

But looking at the wreck of the sacristy in our local church did raise the gorge — this mysterious term always intrigued me as a child, but I now know exactly what it means.


Robbers broke in on Tuesday, and then again on Thursday, the perpetrators returning to heap insult to the already considerable injury. Poor Father Stan was gutted.

Ours is not a rich church. Non-believers never credit this; they look at the glories of Rome or Venice and don’t believe that we on the ‘skirts, so to say, have no Raphaels or Leonardos to flog. We share our church with the local Brazilian community and the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, and all the offerings of the previous Sunday were stolen, a modest sum waiting to be banked. They ignored the money boxes for candles, the poor, and flowers; possibly not conversant with these sources of plunder.


This is the fourth break-in the church has had and, eighteen months ago, at the instigation of the insurance company, bars were fixed to all the windows, about ten inches apart. An emaciated thief or an Oliver Twist had been inserted between the bars to effect entry. A ladder outside, a hammer, and a swag bag were all the kit needed. The shambles they left defies description so I won’t even try.

But it did go to show that, although it was all an expensive nuisance, it didn’t prevent the real business of the church from carrying on. There were just as many in the pews on Sunday, and when it comes to passing round the hat to replace some of the losses, I’m sure the congregation will be as generous as they always are.


One thing surprised me. Why didn’t the emaciated robber snitch some of the grub from the Food Bank box? It’s packed with hardcore dainties.





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