THIEVES have stolen a pair of solid bronze doors worth at least £10,000 from a chapel in a Trowbridge cemetery where they were stored for safekeeping.

Now furious members of Trowbridge Civic Society and the Friends of Down Cemetery are demanding answers from Wiltshire Council and its contractors ideverde, saying they are responsible for the loss.

The six feet tall doors were taken off the Sir William Roger Brown Mausoleum in the cemetery and hidden behind boards in the locked non-conformist chapel.

They were put there for safekeeping after thieves had stolen the bronze gates from the mausoleum in 2012.

Robert Wall, chairman of the Friends of Down Cemetery, and Cllr Glyn Bridges, chairman of Trowbridge Civic Society, both say they are “absolutely devastated” by the latest theft.

It was discovered after Mr Wall asked contractors idverde, who hold the keys to the chapel, if he could look inside to see the doors.

“There was no reported break-in, so somebody had the key,” he said. “So far as I am aware, the only people who had the key were the contractors.

“Wiltshire Council are the legal owners of the cemetery and ideverde work for them, so the theft has happened on their watch.

“I am absolutely devastated, particularly as the doors were put into the chapel for safekeeping after the gates had been stolen.

“I checked on them 18 months ago and they were still there, so they have been stolen since then but we don’t know exactly when.”

Mr Wall was able to take a photograph of the doors in storage in August 2018 when the contractors opened up the chapel to get out some equipment.

Cllr Glyn Bridges said: “They are big heavy doors and worth several thousand pounds.

I am absolutely devastated to think that people can do this sort of thing.”

The two doors are six feet tall and were made from solid bronze to match the gates on the mausoleum built to house Sir William Roger Brown (1831-1902), a leading figure in Wiltshire’s textile industry, and his wife, Lady Brown.

Sir Roger employed some 1,000 people in his woollen textile mills and was much involved in charitable works, providing a local school.

He gifted the Town Hall to Trowbridge, provided a local school, endowed two blocks of Lady Brown’s Almshouses in memory of his wife, and left money in his will for the provision of fuel for “the deserving poor”. He also set up a trust fund for the repair of the mausoleum, which is now cared for by the Civic Society.

Cllr Dr Mark McClelland, Wiltshire Council Cabinet Member for Streetscene said, “The council removed the doors a number of years ago for their protection and safe return to the family.  Memorials are the responsibility of the grave owners or their descendants.  The council does all it can to ensure its cemeteries are a safe place to visit.  We remain hopeful that the doors can be located soon. As a precaution though we did report the matter to the police. It is regrettable that the doors have gone missing whilst in our care and we are doing all we can, working with the police to recover them.

“We’ll know more in due course, but in the meantime we are regularly speaking to the Friends of Trowbridge Cemetery group and other stakeholders to keep them updated on the situation.”