An investigation is underway after a historic suit was taken from a church in Bolton on Christmas Eve during a service.

The 19th century coachman’s outfit and mannequin, known as ‘The Beadle’ was taken from Bolton Parish Church at around 11.15pm after the congregation had gathered to celebrate the midnight service.

At the time the suit was taken believed to have been stolen someone was spotted leaving the church on CCTV and turning left into Silverwell Street.

Cllr John Walsh, who is now trying to help find the Beadle, said: “It was on the porch and it was stolen at about 11.15pm on Christmas Eve.

“It’s a mannequin with a top hat and the whole lot has now been stolen.”

The Bolton News: The Beadle was taken on Christmas EveThe Beadle was taken on Christmas Eve (Image: Public)

He added: “On police advice I’m now walking the streets around the church to see if anyone has dumped it but I’m not sure that’s likely four days on.”

Cllr Walsh explained that the Beadle is a well loved feature of the church and is of huge historic interest, though it would be 'of little use to anyone else.'

He said: “It’s a very early 19th century Dickensian coachman’s outfit known as the Beadle.

“He was said to act as a coachman and help people on their way in as well as guarding the way into the Church.”

Cllr Walsh has appealed for anyone who may know anything about the missing Beadle to contact police or to contact him directly on 07836363635.

Greater Manchester Police have also confirmed that they are looking for the mannequin and have joined with Cllr Walsh in appealing for witnesses to come forward.

A statement from GMP Bolton North said: "GMP are appealing for information following a theft of a historic item from a church in Bolton.

ALSO READ: Students visit Bolton Parish Church to understand the institution

ALSO READ: Children invited as special guest to appear at 'pop-up nativity'

"On Thursday December 27 Greater Manchester Police were made aware of a theft from Bolton Parish Church which occurred between the hours of 11.10pm and 11.50pm.

"The item is described as being of historical importance and of significant value."

Officers investigating the suspected theft have asked for anyone with any information to call 0161 856 7265 quoting log 2692 of 27/12/22.