If you stole a wooden head from a Kent church, you have been warned that your loot is cursed!

The unknown thief stole the 300-year-old carved man’s head from St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Newchurch in England.

The churchwarden says that another thief who stole the same item more than 40 years ago, returned it with a note saying it had brought him bad luck.

Tony Day said: “I’d like to say to the person who has taken the head now, should you find your luck disappearing we’d happily accept it back to its rightful home.”

The caricature, with a plum in its mouth, had been pinched from a table while on public display on October 15, at the end of the church’s art exhibition.

In 1970, the head and the 18 inches of beam it was embedded in were cut off by a thief while the church was being re-roofed.

Fifteen years later it was returned, placed on the doorstep of one of the then churchwardens.

A note was pinned on it saying: “My sincere apologies. I stole this head and have had nothing but bad luck ever since. I hope that as I have now returned it, my luck will return.”

That crook was never identified, nor was it ever discovered what bad luck the jinxed carving gave him.

The head had originally been made by carpentry apprentices in the early 18th century during renovation work as a depiction of their boss.

Mr Day said: “There was a tradition at the time for the apprentices to carve an image of the master and leave it in the church as a signature.”

The 13th century St Peter and St Paul, with its distinctive leaning tower and long low roofs, has brought little good fortune for criminals.

In the early 1700s a smuggler fell into an open grave in the churchyard when he was being chased and shot at by customs men.

Mr Day said: “When he fell inside he disappeared from the customs men’s sight so they couldn’t find him.

“But he was left lying there for three days until the locals heard him groaning and pulled him out. It is not known if he was arrested afterwards.”

During this period Romney Marsh was rife with smuggling and contraband including brandy was hidden in the bells of St Peter and St Paul.

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