Soddenham has been offline it would seem; and this is not without reason.
It is with great sadness that I inform you that a great tragedy has befallen the village and it has taken its toll upon our small community. Our intention to resume our online presence at the beginning of the year was put on hold until such time we were comfortable in sharing the news with the world.
In the first week of January St.Polycarp’s Church was beset by nocturnal visitors who stripped the roof. All of it. Not a single tile or scrap of lead remained. No-one heard anything or saw anything. The roof was intact when the church was locked after the meeting of the Charity Support Committee at 8pm but gone by 6.15am the following morning when it was spotted by Alwyn Gaze on his morning constitutional around the village. The police were called immediately and arrived an hour later. It was quickly ascertained that the church had not been broken into or robbed of any of its contents. Just the roof was gone. And they had made such a thorough job of too, but without causing any damage to the fabric of the building. There were no tyre tracks in the churchyard either, as if the lead had all been carried away by hand, which would have needed scores of people to be involved. Rev. Blencowe was naturally distraught and was returned to the vicarage with Mrs. Smokepipe to tend to her.
A more thorough investigation was undertaken throughout January and February which has not yeilded any other information. Sgt. Dack in his statement to the local press said that they “had not seen such a careful but thorough job done anywhere – it was as if the roof had been stripped for a conserving restoration by experts.” All local and regional scrap merchants and builders yards have been searched for evidence without success.
The roof has been given a temporary weatherproof covering generously donated and installed by local firm Soddenham Roofing.
The following morning Mrs. Smokepipe raised the alarm that the Rev. Blencowe was not in the vicarage – that she had slept in the chair by the bed and woke to find her gone and nowhere in the house. Again, the police were called and a searches were organised to visit every house and to look around the village. The police joined by midday and the search was called off and 9.30pm until the morning. An overnight watch was kept at the church and vicarage, and several officers were drafted in from Swaffham to patrol the village during the night and the search resumed the following morning.
At approximately 11.15am the hue and cry was raised as there was something in the water under Candlesmoke bridge. The area was sealed off while the police brought in a recovery team from Norwich and by 6pm the Police announced that they had recovered a body from The Leam and had been identified as Rev. Jeannette Blencowe, Vicar of St. Polycarp’s Church, Soddenham. To date, the cause of death has not been made public.
The village has been quietly mourning the untimely demise of our friendly and likeable vicar. The church remains closed but a 24hr police watch has been stationed between the che church and vicarage. Mrs. Smokepipe was taken to relatives in King’s Lynn to recuperate from the shock.