Wednesday, 14 December 2011

News - Lead pipes and ornate brackets stolen from abbey are 'work of art' (Newstead)

THE theft of lead drainpipes from Newstead Abbey has been described as a "tragedy" by the chairman of its Byron society.

Twelve lead drainpipes and a number of ornate brackets were stolen from the abbey in two separate incidents on November 28 and December 6.

The brackets – which had unique markings featuring hexagons, lions and the Star of David – were installed by Colonel Wildman, who owned the house in the 19th century.

Ken Purslow, chairman of Newstead Abbey Byron Society said: "The drainpipes themselves are very substantial pieces of pipe, they're not just a thin lead pipe, they're a substantial work of art.

"The tiebacks are of historical importance.

"Colonel Wildman, himself also a mason, was the provincial grand master of Nottinghamshire. There's a very important historical link."

Mr Purslow has criticised the city council, which owns the building, claiming it needs to take extra care to protect the abbey.

He said: "I think it's a tragedy, the city council have got to do something about this.

"Look what has happened to Annesley Hall in recent years. If they want an example this is it. Once a splendid 13th century country mansion, far superior in its day to Newstead, it is derelict, stripped of everything valuable and completely vandalised.

"Is this something the city council wants to see? Or will this latest episode shake them out of their complete indifference?"

The abbey, once home to Lord byron, was named in October as one of the world's most threatened cultural heritage sites by the New York-based World Monuments Watch, stating it is in desperate need of long-term maintenance.

Its opening hours were also cut by the council this year.

Ron Inglis, city council service manager for museums, said: "We are very saddened by this loss and the damage to a historic property.

"Unfortunately this is a problem that many stately homes and churches are facing around the country.

"The city council takes the security of its historic buildings very seriously and a variety of security measures are in place at Newstead Abbey including a caretaker on site at all times.

"All accessible lead has been removed from the abbey since these thefts and temporary down pipes put in place to protect the building. We will consult with English Heritage about the most appropriate way to deal with this in the long term."

He added that the council is anxious to have the lead returned. The pipes are about eight feet in length and five inches in diameter. Any metal dealer offered them should call Notts Police on 101 and ask for Ravenshead Police.

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