LEAD thieves struck a centuries old church in a Swindon village.

The crime caused significant damage to the Grade I listed St Andrew's Church and is believed to have taken place between February 10 and February 16. 

Anita Basevi posted about the theft in Wanborough on Facebook and says there may be a chance the theives were disturbed as a large section of lead and tools have been left behind in the church's graveyard.

She wrote: "The lead has been stolen from the roof of St Andrew's Church. A large piece of lead was left in the graveyard with tools, so it is possible they were disturbed. Did you see anything? Can you help identify the night it happened? 

"All the lead on the south side has gone, plus a section from the north facing roof. There is considerable damage to the tiles, wall and gutters on the south side tiled section and damage to the leaded roof structure. Subsequent rain has soaked the pews, carpet and kneelers inside the church."

A church has been in Wanborough since no later than the 11th century. In 1091 it was granted to the chapter of Salisbury. 

In the 14th century, the nave was rebuilt, along with the tower and spire above the crossing. A tower was added to the west in the 15th century.

It is one of only three churches in England to have a western tower and a central spire.

"We may have to raise the funds for a new one too," Anita added.

A Wiltshire Police spokesman said: “We are carrying out enquiries after lead was stolen from a church roof in Wanborough.

“We received a report on February 16 regarding the theft at St Andrew’s Church in Church Road.

“An investigation is now ongoing and we would urge anyone who witnessed anything suspicious in the area over recent days to call 101, quoting crime reference 54220017015.

The historic building was the target of a similar theft in 2016.