Broken gravestones at Harpley Church. Picture: Tony Jones

Police have arrested two men after a trail of destruction was left when lead was stripped from a West Norfolk village church roof – the second time it has been targeted in weeks. 

Damage put at tens of thousands of pounds was caused to St Lawrence’s Church in Harpley.

Lead was stripped off the north aisle of the church, a stone parapet was knocked to the floor, guttering left hanging and at least three gravestones damaged.

The stones were smashed and wedged under the wheels of a vehicle stuck in the churchyard during the incident.

It was the third time the church has been targeted and the second time within a matter of weeks.

At the end of September, lead worth around £20,000 was taken from St Lawrence’s.

The Rural Dean of King’s Lynn, the Rev James Nash, said everyone had been shocked by the latest attack, which happened between 4pm on Sunday and 7.30am on Monday.

“It is a real mess. The damage to the church and graveyard is significant,” he said.

The stripped lead left the church exposed to the elements.

“The north and south aisles have had 125m by 5m strips taken, which is a substantial amount. We don’t know the value of all the stolen lead yet and cannot even guess, but to repair the roof and replace it with lead or some other material will run into tens of thousands of pounds,” he said.

He added: “We have a small, faithful congregation which is devastated.”

Sergeant Nathan Franklin, of Norfolk Police said: “We are investigating this offence and have arrested two people in connection with it.

“This is saddening as it is the second time this church has been stolen from in this way recently. This is compounded by the fact the gravestones have been damaged.”

in the commission of the offence.