Memorial garden desecrated after thieves tear up rose tree

A rose tree has been stolen from the grounds of Hartford Church, Church Wardens (l-r) Derek Colbert,

A rose tree has been stolen from the grounds of Hartford Church, Church Wardens (l-r) Derek Colbert, and Elizabeth Cooper, with the remaining two. - Credit: Archant

Callous thieves stole a rose tree from the interment garden at All Saints Church in Hartford during a spate of plant thefts in the area.

Elizabeth Cooper, 75, warden at All Saints Church, discovered the missing tree on the Wednesday [July 1], and believes that it must have been taken overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday.

Mrs Cooper said: “I find it unbelievably sad that someone stole one of the rose trees by wrenching both it and the supporting stake out of the ground.”

The garden was created less than a year ago, because the original interment area at the back of the church is at capacity. The new garden is between the boundary wall and the front of the church, so the missing tree is very obvious to visitors.

All Saints, which dates back to the Domesday Book, had to seek special permission from the Church of England to create the garden, where the ashes of loved ones can be interred on consecrated ground.

The garden was created with four rose trees donated and planted by Huntingdon Town Council and a rose bush supplied by the church.

The town council maintain the church grounds and workers told Mrs Cooper that there had been several similar plant thefts in the area.

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She said: “I can only hope that they did not understand they would be causing such distress to people. The council has already said they will replace the tree, but the upset the thief has caused is not so easily dealt with.”

Hoping that the thief might see the error of their ways, Mrs Cooper said: “It would be lovely if it suddenly reappeared,” though she doesn’t hold out much hope of that happening.

“If the person concerned would like to contact me, I will gladly explain how devastating it is to mourn the death of a loved one and how important a place becomes when the loved one’s ashes are interred there.”

Mrs Cooper firmly believes the garden is there to be used by everyone and, apart from the occasional bit of rubbish or empty beer bottle, incidents of serious vandalism are usually few and far between.