A Grade I-listed dinosaur sculpture which has stood in a park since the Victorian era has been damaged
The nose and mouth of the Megalosaurus, which is on an island in the south London park’s lake, have broken off.
Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs said although the damage ran alongside existing cracks, the Met Police were investigating it as a heritage crime.
The charity’s trustee, Sarah Slaughter, said she felt like crying when she saw what had happened.
“The magnitude of the damage shocked me,” she said.
“I have known of the dinos since I was a little girl living in Croydon. My dad’s family were from Penge and he remembers seeing the dinos as a small boy.
“I have worked really hard alongside the other board members to protect the sculptures and make sure that people love them, too.
“It is upsetting to be reminded that not everybody cares about them.”
Ms Slaughter said she was alerted to the damage on social media by a member of the public on Monday.
On Friday, the antlers on the Irish elk models were damaged, although she said this could potentially have been because of high winds.
The Megalosaurus and elk are part of more than 30 animal sculptures in the park, which are on the Heritage At Risk register.
Historic England has said the creatures represent the cutting edge of scientific knowledge at the time and would have been “an extraordinary sight” to the Victorians.
They were created between 1852-1855 by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, a natural history artist, and represent the first major worldwide outreach project of science as “edu-tainment”.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were said to have been fascinated by the dinosaur displays in Crystal Palace and had visited the site several times.
- Its name means “giant lizard”
- They lived in England between 166.1 and 168.3 million years ago
- They were 20ft (6m) long
- Charles Dickens imagined meeting a Megalosaurus on the muddy streets of London in the opening lines of Bleak House. They are also mentioned in Conan Doyle’s Lost World