Valuable drawings by Dame Laura Knight stolen after Royal Mail left them on doorstep

The spate of doorstep thefts has shocked residents of the idyllic riverside village of Waldringfield, where there were just four burglaries reported last year.

The theft of the drawings came after a 5ft model reindeer Lesley York had ordered for Christmas for £50 was taken from his doorstep on being delivered by a courier.

Mr York said: “When I asked about the parcel the company insisted their driver had left it on the doorstep – but it wasn’t there and must have been stolen. You don’t expect that sort of thing to happen in a little village like this – the worst we have had in recent years is the theft of heating oil and once a car was taken.

‘We have never needed a village bobby’

“Waldringfield is almost crime-free – we have never had a village bobby because we have never needed one. This is all very disappointing and upsetting.”

The Rev Canon Ian Wilson, who holds services at the community’s medieval All Saints Church, said: “It’s extremely unusual – Waldringfield is a beautiful village with generations of the same families – it is a place where people look out for each other.”

Dame Laura, who had displayed her gifts as an artist from an early age, became the first woman elected to full membership of the Royal Academy in 1936 and is credited with having paved the way for greater status and recognition for women artists.

Her groundbreaking self-portrait showing herself painting a nude model, the artist Ella Naper, challenged the rule that female artists could not paint nude models directly, but had to work from casts and existing drawings.

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