Villagers in Castle Combe were shocked to find the life-size figure standing outside the museum had been stolen last week – and were even more puzzled when it mysteriously returned days later.

The model of John Broome Whitcomb, who lived in the village during the 19th century, is displayed outside the museum to show when it is open.

Parish councillor Adrian Bishop said: “We only open the museum on Sundays, and that is when he stands outside.

“Last Sunday he vanished while the museum was open.

“He is life-sized and quite heavy, so how they managed to take him away I will never know.”

Just a week after his disappearance Mr Whitcomb was returned.

Mr Bishop said: “He was found lying inside the museum gates and he is in good order.”