Vandals have wreaked havoc after forcing their way into an historic church, leaving a trail of destruction.

Villagers have been left shocked and upset at the damage to Broughton Baptist church at Little Broughton.

Police are investigating the incident last Friday which saw framed pictures trashed, hymn and prayer books ripped apart, children's games destroyed, a lectern toppled off the pulpit and green paint splattered up the walls.

Knives were also stolen, including three with 8 inch blades.

Church leader, Joe Fisher, 75, said he was 'distraught and devastated' after the despicable attack.

The vandals had spent several hours drinking alcohol, smoking and playing music from the church's own music system.

Two fire extinguishers had been activated and emptied, and the church was left sodden, empty alcohol bottles, cans and cigarette butts strewn throughout the building and its grounds.

Mr Fisher was alerted to the damage after a phone call from a concerned neighbour on Friday at around 6.15pm.

He said: "I was distraught, I rushed to the church and when I stepped inside I was devastated. I couldn't believe it was possible, I couldn't believe someone could treat a place of worship like that. You just can't take it in, I still can't take it in."

He added cans, bottles, cigarette stumps and drink were strewn across the floor, electric wires were pulled out, there was knife damage to the pulpit and the front door had been kicked in.

"I wouldn't believe it, I don't know where they started, it was such a mess. Such a lack of respect," he added.

"I would like to thank the people who came and cleared up the church. I even had a supportive message from Australia."

Police confirmed they were investigating a burglary at the church between 4pm and 6pm on August 2 and asked anyone with any information to contact PC 2642 Clark on 101.

A Great and Little Broughton Facebook page showed the disgust of local residents.

Kath Leonard said: "What a shame. It's so historic. No respect."

Cali MacDonald said: "Sorry and angry to hear this."

Eileen Henderson said: "How utterly senseless!! Hope those responsible are caught and made to pay for the damage."

Tracey Owen said: "Disgusting!! Their parents should be ashamed raising such disrespectful kids. If there's anything anyone can do to help let us all know on here, I'm sure everyone in the village want's to help."