Lord and Lady Leicester appeal for the return of Holkham’s stolen King James Bible

Lady Leicester inside Holkham Church where a bible has recently been stolen. Picture: Ian Burt Lady Leicester inside Holkham Church where a bible has recently been stolen. Picture: Ian Burt

Thursday, April 24, 2014
8:42 AM

Lord and Lady Leicester have branded the theft of a rare Bible gifted to their family 145 years ago “sickening” and pleaded for its return.

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The gold leaf King James Bible is missing from the lectern in the Church of St Withburga on Main Road in Holkham where it has sat since 1869.

The precious book was presented to Juliana, the then Countess of Leicester, after she restored the historic church.

The words “Holkham Church 1869” are inscribed on the front of the five kilo book in gold leaf and it is still used in regular services today.

Lady Leicester said she is shocked that such a sentimental item, worth around £500, could be stolen from a church built around 700AD.

“It is terribly sad that somebody could steal a Bible that so obviously belongs to a church, and has been there since it was put there in 1869,” she said.

“To think our relations have read from that book in the church, it’s a very sickening thing.”

The church is open to the public all year round, but relocates its parishioners to the chapel at Holkham Hall in the winter months.

The historic book was noticed missing on Palm Sunday by churchwarden Anthony Atkinson, although it is believed it could have disappeared as far back as Sunday, December 22 last year after a Christmas service.

Mr Atkinson also called for the 18in by 16in brown leather book to be returned.

“There’s a great feeling of shock because the Bible has gone,” he said.

“It’s not the financial value of it, it’s the emotional value because it was presented to the Leicester family 145 years ago.

“I am hoping whoever stole it has a bit of a conscience and returns it.”

The church will remain open to the public.

Police officers would like to speak to anyone with any information relating to the incident or who believes they may know the whereabouts of the Bible.

Anyone who can help should contact PC Steve Jenkins at Norfolk Constabulary on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Do you have a crime story? Email crime correspondent Peter Walsh at peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

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