Villagers in Wingfield are shocked by the theft of a 93-year-old bronze statue of Christ from a First World War memorial.

The statue, worth about £10,000, was commissioned by the great-grandfather of Wingfield parish council chairman Michael Copland-Griffiths, and designed by his great-aunt.

He said: “There is a lot of amazement and horror. It’s a feature of the village that will be sadly missed.

“It was reported missing by a councillor at 10am. The three bolts holding it on had been removed, so rather than tear it off it has been carefully unwound. To me that doesn’t sound quite so desperate, and like they knew what they were doing.”

The sculpture was removed from the wooden memorial at the village crossroads, where the A366 crosses the B3109, between Friday night and Saturday morning.

The memorial was donated to the people of the village 20 years ago, and was due to be restored this year as part of the centenary commemorations of the start of the war.

Mr Copland-Griffiths said: ”It’s quite a spread-out village, so it’s one thing that unites us together.

"It’s a tragedy that in this centenary year something so important to the nation has been lost to the village.”

PC Richard Gardner, of Wiltshire Police’s Crime Management Unit in Melksham, said: “This isn’t simply the theft of valuable metal, this is the theft of something symbolic to a community.

“It remembers those who have paid the ultimate price to protect our way of life which is particularly poignant in this the 100th year of the commencement of hostilities.”

Anyone with information can contact PC Gardner on 101.