Rugby families have been left devastated and disgusted after ‘mindless vandals’ destroyed a cemetery chapel in Hillmorton after breaking in and setting fire to it.
Arsonists removed a window of the chapel, at Watts Lane Cemetery, in the early hours of Sunday morning, and built a fire inside which ripped through the building causing extensive damage.
The chapel had only recently been refurbished, with work completed in March this year.
Nina Boxell, who lives in Hillmorton, said: “My husband Mark is in the cremation area of Watts Lane Cemetery. He chose this area before he died of cancer in June. He said it was so peaceful and beautiful there.
“He would have been very upset that mindless vandals have done this. Me and my five-year-old old daughter visit everyday and this has upset her as she’s worried they will break his grave and bench. This is her special place where Daddy sleeps.”
Lisa Simmonds of Coton Park added: “We are shocked as a family at the lows some mindless thugs will go to just for a bit of fun.
“No consideration was made for the pain caused to people who have family buried at Watts Lane. We’re completely devastated.”
Watts Lane Cemetery was originally a parish council cemetery and was opened in 1927.
It now belongs to Rugby Borough Council and it is sometimes open during the summer for personal visits and contemplation.
It is also open monthly for a service held by Hillmorton Churches Together, as well as an annual Christmas service which is held there.
Deborah Hill said: “It’s disgusting, so cruel and heartless what these scumbags have done. What do they get out of committing this crime? Nothing but heartache for the people who visit their loved ones there.”
Tena Nin Watson: “My mum is there. This has made me feel very sad especially as it’s the anniversary on the 17th of this month and she also died on her birthday which makes the date extra sad.”
Rachel Baker said: “My grandparents are buried in there and it makes me sick to my stomach that some low life scum of the earth people would even think about doing this.”
Dil Jordan said: “The feeling of disgust and the upset I feel cannot be expressed. It’s part of Hillmorton’s heritage and unfortunately cannot be put back to its former glory. They’re are just mindless idiots.”
Hayley Golarits added: “I’m absolutely disgusted. What did this scum of the earth get out of this? I really hope they’re caught and brought to justice.”
Police are now hunting for the arsonists and are appealing for witnesses to come forward.
It is believed the fire took place between 1.30 and 3.20am on Sunday.
Cllr Dr Mark Williams, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for the environment, said: “I am bitterly disappointed by this mindless act of vandalism.
“Not only have these vandals destroyed a beautiful chapel, but they have also robbed mourners of a peaceful place for worship and contemplation.
“We will rebuild and repair the chapel, but it looks like the historic cemetery bier is beyond saving. It is irreplaceable.”
Police would like to speak to people in the area who may have seen anyone hanging around the cemetery or acting suspiciously.
Anyone with information can call Detective Constable Alistair Knight in Rugby CID on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.