A vicar has expressed dismay after a statue of Christ thought to be more than 100 years old was vandalised outside his church.

The plaster-based figure, on Palmerston Road next to St Michael and All Angels in Northcote Road, Walthamstow, was discovered smashed up on the morning of Sunday before last.

It is the second time in recent years that the statue has been targeted. Six years ago it was smashed in a similar manner, but the church raised £2,000 to repair it.

Father Alex Summers, who joined the church four months ago, said: “It's tragic. We don't really know when it happened, how or why.

“But obviously it's mindless vandalism of something which is very important to people, not just those who worship here.

“It's a real symbol of devotion for a lot of people. Often you'll see people stopping by it to cross themselves before walking on.

“It does affect people when a religious site is attacked in this way, whether it be a church, mosque or synagogue. We think the police will be treating it as a hate crime.

“We are hoping it can be repaired.”

He added that some residents had already started making donations to the church, although hopefully most of the costs will be covered by insurance.

He said: “It has been comforting to see how much the church means to people in the community. Only the other day a man came in and gave us £20 towards the repairs.”

The statue is believed to date back to Victorian or Edwardian times and has long been admired by residents as a mini local landmark.

Bob Wheatley, 86, has lived in Palmerston Road for more than 50 years.
He said: “It's absolutely disgusting.

“I'm not strongly religious myself but I've always admired the statue and the church.

“It really is a tragedy that this has happened again”.

The Guardian is awaiting a comment from police.