St Mary the Virgin Church, Lewisham

A Brockley woman has pleaded guilty to the theft of a war memorial from St Mary the Virgin Church, near the Ladywell section of Lewisham High Street. It's a pretty sad tale all round, and means the names of some who lost their lives in the First World War may be lost forever. Rising metal prices mean that metal theft (like the copper cabling theft that occasionally wipes out telecommunications in the area) is becoming more common and as many as 100,000 memorials are thought to be at risk, according to SmartWater (full disclosure: client).

The story is, however, an opportunity to celebrate one of the area's finest buildings, seen here peeping over the trees in Ladywell Fields (Copyright: Steven Craven). St Mary's was built between 1774 and 1777, designed by the architect George Gibson, who also built the Stone House on Lewisham Way. The church is surrounded by the St Mary's Conservation Area, which was the birthplace of Lewisham town.

The church says of its origins:

"Lewisham people have worshipped here for at least a thousand years. The site of the church is close to, and almost certainly linked with, the ancient well at nearby Ladywell. Although the foundation date of the church is not known a tenth century charter, confirming the gift of Lewisham and the surrounding area to the Abbey of St. Peter’s in Ghent, refers to “churches.” The ownership by St.Peter’s Ghent continued from the tenth century to 1414."

See also:

The Presbyterian Church of Wales
St Gregorios Indian Orthodox Church

32 comments:

ecstaticgaucho said...

Of interest: Vicars of St Mary's include George Stanhope (1660 – 1728). A friend of Jonathan Swift, who visited him in his Ladywell vicarage, Stanhope's achievements inlcude being a key member of the Commission for Building Fifty New Churches, whose constructions include Christ Church Spitalfields and, of course, those glories of South London ecclesiastical architecture: St Alfege's Church, Greenwich and St Paul's, Deptford.

Fattyfattybumbum said...

My blood is boiling reading this so best not to comment.

Furious said...

£20 for a piece of metal and the loss of the names, memorial and social history of people that died fighting for their country.

People who do this should be whipped.

Brockley Nick said...

What would Jesus do?

Anonymous said...

She must have the strength of an ox with a bit of Super Tennants down her. Thank god she didn't nick the rest of the church as well.

Anonymous said...

What would Jesus do? Continue to be a figment of peoples imagination.

Anonymous said...

The comments made by the viewers of that Mail Online article on the theft were fulsome in their vitriol and offer plenty of instant solutions to deter such offensive acts of criminality.

The crime, however offensive, was quite pathetic: attempt to gain easy money (£20) by selling a public monument stolen for its scrap value. Presumably the proceeds went to feed a chronic alcohol addiction.

It makes you wonder what other low crimes have been caused by people suffering from this sort of addictive illness.

On the other hand it is only because metals are so valuable at the moment that puts a value on any piece of metal put on public display.

War memorials, telecoms cables, damage to the railways....

I can see some emergency laws being passed to deal with this sort of issue.

There is political capital to be made of this.

kolp said...

What i would do is send all people who do these acts on a course on history & to meet any of the descendants of those named, plus alcohol/drug treatment. Further if memorials are under attack and names of the fallen could be lost, i'd start an urgent project to document them, maybe getting people to photograph the memorials with location details and upload to a site.

patrick1971 said...

It is a very hidden part of Lewisham; once you get to the part between the church and Ladywell Fields, it's almost as if you're in open country. A very unexpected peaceful spot.

Anonymous said...

see also statue in Bermondsey:

http://www.southwark.gov.uk/news/article/560/southwark_offers_1_000_reward_following_salter_statue_theft

Anonymous said...

/southwark_offers_1_000_reward_following_salter_statue_theft

Anonymous said...

Maybe the woman still has it. Unless it has been sold of course.

Ian on the Hill said...

'If I knew where it was I'd get it back. My Grandad fought in the world war. As soon as I found out what it was, I went to Church. I've been in St Mary's church to pray.'

Nothing like some slobbering half-arsed drunken sentimentality to excuse your actions.

Tamsin said...

There is an organisation that looks out for, after and records war memorials already - they sometimes have a stand at the Nunhead Cemetery Open Day.

I remember being deeply grieved by the one at the junction of Lewisham Hill and Granville Park - with the copper plate with the names on clearly stolen long ago. So it's not just a recent issue.

Fattyfattybumbum said...

@ Anon 11.45 - "It makes you wonder what other low crimes have been caused by people suffering from this sort of addictive illness."

Gosh you make her sound like the victim! I hope she suffers a lot more after what she has done.

Since its erection after the first world war, this plaque has survived a second world war and indeed numerous periods of REAL poverty not just today's level of poverty as determined by the number of flat screen TVs you have or your access to the internet. This woman is a symbol of the broken society in which we now live, where greed rules and taking responsibility for your actions doesn't. What a cretin.

Brockley Nick said...

Calm down fatty! I don't think anyone's disputing what she did was wrong.

Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime, etc, etc.

Lou Baker said...

This is an exceptionally low crime. Vile.

I have slightly less than zero sympathy for the offender.

Even if you're a drunk - or a druggie - there are certain depths beyond which you do not stoop. And this is well beyond that.

The really sad part is that she is just one example of this mass feral underclass which blights our society. Normal folk can disagree about politics, policy or any range of issues on sites like this. But we all have the same basic goal - to make life better.

The underclass is not engaged at all. They defy social norms. They are responsible for a disproportionate share of our society's ills and offer us little but hassle in return.

Tackling these problem people should be national priority number 1. I do not know how to do this. But decades of just chucking benefits at them has failed. In fact the problem is arguably worse. But tackle them we must.

kolp said...

jobs

Lou Baker said...

Jobs isn't the answer. At least not all of it.

The economy is rough right now but we've just had 15 years of economic boom. And the underclass remained stubbornly unemployed.

We're not talking about people who lose their jobs and struggle to find another one. We're talking about people who just don't work. They don't even try to work. The very thought of working isn't something that even crosses their mind.

Monkeyboy said...

HOUSE! He said "feral underclass" that was my last square in the Lou Baker Cliche Bingo.

Prize please.

Danja said...

Here you go MonkeyB - it's a Nick Ferrari box set.

Lou Baker said...

Alas poor monkeyboy.

Your moral compass has been ruined by too many years of working on the railways and wearing cords.

To the extent that you now refuse to criticise those who steal war memorials but you take a pop at those who stand up for the law abiding majority.

So sad.

Anonymous said...

Ironically, this is precisely the sort of desperate and callous theft that was rife in wartime in London.

Mb said...

The people who steel metal for war memorials are beneath contempt.

I watching danjas box set, nick Ferrari. The thinking mans Lou baker.

Mb said...

The people who steel metal for war memorials are beneath contempt.

I watching danjas box set, nick Ferrari. The thinking mans Lou baker.

NAT said...

'In eighteen hundred and forty one

The corduroy breeches I put on

The corduroy breeches I put on

To work upon the railway. The
railway...'

A Pogues reference from Lou. Well who'd have thought..

Anonymous said...

Bet she only exhibited remorse after being arrested...

She didn't show remorse when a scrap dealer refused to purchase it, she sold it to someone else.

I trust if she is in subsidised housing, she will be asked to leave the borough or pay for its replacement.

Anonymous said...

If only there was some sort of local centre to help people with problems like this, to stop it effecting the wider community...

Tamsin said...

I've just discovered that there's a government e-petition running on this issue - and nearly half way to teh requisite 100,000 signatures to get a chance of being debated. Link here.

Mark you there's an e-petition about just about anything - including allowing 14 year olds to have driving licences and making Jo Frost Minister for Children. Fourteen hundred of them have only one signature - presumably that of the original petitioner. But the "view all petitons" option is an interesting way of whiling away time that you should be doing something else.

One idea is to reinstate the Riot Act (a phrase from the past - what my father used to threaten to read to us children when things got out of hand) and update it so that it could be "read" by a blanket tweet!

NAT said...

The Riot Act on your Blackberry.

Brilliant if a touch 1984ish

The cashless scrap dealing sounds a good idea. In addition to the above unfortunate carry on, it might stop vans stopping by abandoned fridges in the street and ripping out that little pot in the back thereby releasing the gasses (and leaving the rest).
That component must have some value but the old style rag and bone man took the lot.

Tamsin said...

It is slightly surreal - and would give rise to all sorts of interesting legal niceties.

But sign the petition and spread the word. And I might send the link to the war memorials people.

Still only 15 signatures on the alcohol tax one - and no acknowledgement from CAMRA or the LVA - though maybe, sending a link, the messages got filtered out as spam. Might try again and just tell them about it.

PS if anyone wants to make St. Mary's feel loved - the Lewisham Choral Society are singing there this Saturday evening. Handel and carols and Christmassy stuff...

Tamsin said...

Late posting this as it was a couple of days ago at least that it was in the news - but the Barbara Hepworth in Dulwich Park gone for scrap!

The e-petition has now gone up over the 50,000 mark but still a long way to go. Link in the post above to take you to where you can sign it. (And the alcohol tax one has only garnered two more signatures in the past fortnight!)

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