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Ashford: Church 'sad' over Snowdog move from St. Mary's Church

By Charlie Harman

Church leaders have spoken of their sadness after a Snowdog was controversially removed from outside St Mary's.

The Infinity Dog, which is part of the popular Ashford Snowdogs trail, had been placed at the entrance to the church last month.

But campaigner Chris Cooper, who lives in the churchyard, contacted church authorities and demanded the sculpture was moved because he believed it was not in keeping with the site's rules or aesthetics.

The Infinity Dog, by Jessica Holly Goddard, was removed from the church two weeks ago
The Infinity Dog, by Jessica Holly Goddard, was removed from the church two weeks ago

Now the Diocese of Canterbury, which covers Ashford, says it understands why the sculpture was moved, but is disappointed.

Mr Cooper, 39, contacted the Registrar of the Ecclesiastical Court, which supported his complaint and said the "unauthorised installation" should be removed.

Diocese spokeswoman Anna Drew said: "St Mary’s Church was very excited to be a part of the Ashford Snow Dogs trail and delighted to have Infinity Dog join us, even if it was only for a short time.

The site where the Infinity Dog once stood
The site where the Infinity Dog once stood

"There are a number of rules designed to protect churchyards and in our excitement we forgot to ensure that everything was in place to comply with those rules. They’re not often used if you’re giving a temporary home to a Snow Dog but sadly, a member of the public complained about Infinity Dog – and that complaint has been upheld.

"While we are sad about this, we do understand why the decision has been made."

The Snowdog has now been placed close to the Hair Academy, outside of the fenced off churchyard.

The mathematical mutt has moved outside the church's fence
The mathematical mutt has moved outside the church's fence

Ms Drew added: "Infinity Dog has taken a little wander and found a new home just outside the churchyard.

"He was designed to celebrate the life of John Wallis, who was born just around the corner in the college - so Infinity Dog’s new location by the college seems even more fitting.

"We’re glad that Infinity Dog has now settled in a place close to both the church and the college for everyone to enjoy - and we hope we can now let sleeping dogs lie."

Chris Cooper, the parishioner who made the complaint which saw the Snowdog relocated
Chris Cooper, the parishioner who made the complaint which saw the Snowdog relocated

Mr Cooper says he is not against the Snowdogs as a whole, but said it had been placed in a poor location.

In 2013, Mr Cooper began shouting over members at the annual parochial church meeting and was escorted away by police.

Three years earlier, he went on a hunger strike and pitched a tent in the churchyard over plans to turn the church into the Revelation performance space.

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