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Ashford: Snowdog removed from St Mary's Church after Chris Cooper complaint

By Charlie Harman

A Snowdog has been removed from a churchyard following a complaint it was not in keeping with its historic surroundings.

The Infinity Dog, which is part of the popular Ashford Snowdogs trail, had been placed at the entrance to St Mary's in the town centre.

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.

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The Infinity Dog was previously within the church grounds. Picture: Andy Jones
The Infinity Dog was previously within the church grounds. Picture: Andy Jones

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

Mr Cooper said: "I don't mind the thing - they're quite nice - but just not in the church.

"My main issue is they've stuck a 21st century object right next to an ancient church in an ancient graveyard.

"The problem is they think they can do what they like, but I know the regulations. It doesn't fit aesthetically and it shows a total lack of understanding.

"It wasn't just me whinging - the dog was put there without any authorisation and I am just the person who pointed that out."

Campaigner Chris Cooper
Campaigner Chris Cooper

The Snowdogs Discover Ashford art trail is now in its second week, with another eight weeks left for visitors to spot all 35 dogs across the town.

Various artists designed the pooches, which are sponsored by businesses and organisations.

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

The sculpture, sponsored by Leath Park Developments, celebrates the life and work of John Wallis, a famous son of Ashford known for creating the infinity symbol.

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

He was born just around the corner in College Court, and his father served as the vicar of St Mary's.

Mr Cooper says he is not against the Snowdogs.

He added: "I don't enjoy these battles, I don't have time for them. But you can't let these things go because when you do that things just get worse.

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

"The Snowdogs are fine. I have no problem with them, in that I'm by no means a puritan, but it's like a weed. When's a weed a weed? When it's in the wrong place.

"If they're in a public space there's no problem, but it's all about where you put it because they belong in certain places."

Ashford Borough Council has been contacted for comment but is yet to reply.

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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