THERE is a tiny iron church standing alone in the woods at Bramdean Common, near Alresford.

Reputed to have been built in just five weeks in 1883, by and for the gypsy communities and charcoal makers who lived on the common, the small green building, trimmed in white and with a bell tower, stands as a virtually unknown gem in the Upper Itchen benefice, part of the Winchester Diocese.

Used as recently as 2014 for a gypsy baptism, the little church still plays host to monthly services and comes into its own on special occasions. On Sunday, May 8, more than a hundred people attended a Songs of Praise- type service accompanied by a 10-piece Salvation Army band and led by Rev Graham Bowkett, the rector of Bramdean.

But on the night of Saturday, July 23, according to James Stanley, a member of the Bramdean Society and chairman of trustees who care for the building, the attention afforded the church was not so joyous.

Instead someone intent on damage forced open the outer door causing the mortise lock to tear away and split the door. The lock was then thrown through one of the windows, shattering the glass.

Said Mr Stanley: “No entry was made and so the desecrater gained anything. The church was left with a lot of mess and the cost, of repairing the door and window.

“A police scenes of crime officer attended on Sunday morning and the afternoon service took place as it usually does on the fourth Sunday in the month.”

He added: “If the person who did this has by now sobered up and is remorseful, they could help make amends anonymously by putting £250 in a plain envelope and putting it through the letterbox of Cheriton rectory.”