Arundel & South Downs MP Andrew Griffith has spoken of his sadness in response to the Arundel Castle last Friday (21 May) and has called for stronger penalties for crimes involving cultural robbery.
A set of “irreplaceable” gold rosary beads carried by Mary Queen of Scots to her execution in 1587 are reportedly amongst historic treasures worth more than £1m stolen in a raid at Arundel castle.
Other items taken in the burglary at the castle in West Sussex – home to the Dukes of Norfolk and their ancestors for 850 years – include coronation cups given by Mary to the Earl Marshal, as well as gold and silver items.
The MP said: “The whole Nation joins our sadness this morning. The theft of these irreplaceable artefacts connecting us to our shared history is a crime against us all.”
Mr Griffith added: “These treasures are of priceless importance and are part of the fabric of our country’s rich history. Their theft is a crime against all of us. Many countries have laws giving extra protection to cultural items by considering them as aggravated thefts worthy of more severe penalties. I will be looking carefully at whether our laws can be strengthened to give a greater deterrent.”
“I would encourage anyone who was in the areas around Arundel, Bignor, Bury or Barlavington last Friday evening and saw something suspicious to contact Sussex Police by calling 101 and quoting Operation Deuce.”
An abandoned 4x4 was found on fire in Barlavington shortly after the break-in, and police are investigating if this was connected to the raid. Additionally, the Castle only re-opened to the public on Tuesday 18 May, so any visitors last week are encouraged to get in touch if they saw any suspicious behaviour in the days before the theft.