VANDALS have struck again in Middlewich and this time at the very heart of the community.
Yobs left more than £4,000 worth of damage when they used bricks, beer bottles and apples to smash the windows of St Michael and All Angels Church.
The series of attacks, some carried out in daylight, has left the church community reeling.
Churchwarden Sylvia Bosomworth said: 'This is a sacred place and to vandalise it is something you just can't understand. We love this church and to come in and see it like this is heartbreaking.
'These people have violated God's house.'
The vandals targeted the north side of the church, smashing stained glass windows picturing the Nativity Scene, the Good Shepherd, the Blessing of the Children and other portraits of Jesus' life. Some of the windows are more than 100 years old.
In the Vestry, more than 35 panes of glass were shattered. But here Mrs Bosomworth and fellow churchwarden Hugh Malkin are less worried about the cost of damage than the danger to the younger churchgoers.
Said Mr Malkin: 'This room is used by mums and little ones and we're constantly finding splinters all over the floor where the children play.'
The damage could take months to put right. Mrs Bosomworth said: 'It's the segments of colour in the stained glass which are harder to fix.
The number of skilled people in the UK able to do this is rather limited so it will take quite a while to put right.'
The church is now looking to install more lighting for protection.
The insurance company has also suggested placing metal guards over the windows but this would cost another £16,000.
Mrs Bosomworth said: 'When you think this happened in broad daylight and no one saw anything, it makes you angry. Everyone looks to St Michael and All Angels as the centrepiece of the town. It's up to people to help us by keeping a watch on what goes on here.'
Other areas of the church have also taken a battering in recent months.
Yobs have scrawled graffiti on the north church door and pelted it with eggs.
Mrs Bosomworth said: 'We find vomit and excrement here as well on a regular basis. We have to wash the step each Sunday morning.
'With a church this age and size, it's a struggle to keep it in one piece without all this as well.'
She added: 'Middlewich is such a lovely town and the people are so nice. We don't deserve this.'