A REVEREND has expressed his sadness after thieves broke into Malmesbury Abbey and stole several valuable items overnight.

Police officers were informed that a number of items including goblets and ornaments had been stolen from the architectural landmark and the burial place of Athelstan, the first King of England, at 10am this morning, Thursday, November 16.

In addition, they discovered that money from inside the abbey's charity box had also disappeared.

Rev’d Oliver Ross, vicar of Malmesbury and the Upper Avon Group of Churches, said: “We are all deeply hurt and dismayed by the break-in at the Abbey. 

"We are amazed that someone would stoop so low as to desecrate and steal from the house of God.”

A spokesperson for Malmesbury Abbey added: "At this time, we would like to request the public to provide space for the police to do their work and contact Wiltshire Police directly if anybody has information related to the case.

"We ask everybody to hold the Malmesbury Abbey, its staff and the community in their prayers at this difficult time, as we work together towards healing and hope for the stolen items to be successfully recovered.

"Morning Prayer on Friday, November 17 and Saturday, November 18 will meet at Eilmer House instead of the abbey."

The Grade One listed building will be closed to the public until the Banana Blush concert on Saturday evening, November 18 due to ongoing work by the forensics and cleaning team.

Inquires into the burglary are ongoing and anyone with information about this incident has been asked to contact Wiltshire Police by calling 101 quoting reference 54230121403.