Rare Bible stolen from church in Holkham has been returned

The Countess of Leicester with the bible that has been returned to Holkham Church. Picture: Ian Burt The Countess of Leicester with the bible that has been returned to Holkham Church. Picture: Ian Burt

Tuesday, April 29, 2014
5:57 PM

Lady Leicester has expressed delight after a rare Bible gifted to her family 145 years ago which was stolen last week has been returned.

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The Eastern Daily Press and Lord and Lady Leicester came together to offer a £1,000 reward for information about the King James Bible which had gone missing from the lectern in the Church of St Withburga at Holkham, near Wells, where it has sat for 145 years.

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

It was noticed missing on Palm Sunday but may have disappeared as far back as December 22.

Workmen carrying out restoration work noticed the Bible, placed on a pew in the church, yesterday.

Lady Leicester said: “I’m absolutely delighted and I am convinced the publicity given to this by the EDP has brought the Bible back.

“It shows what a powerful thing publicity is.

“Obviously whoever took the Bible realised they would not be able to make any money from it and something has pricked their conscience.

“It was not there for the service on Sunday, so it appears that someone crept into the church in the dead of night to return it.

“There was no note or any information from the person who returned it so as far as I can see it there is nobody to give the reward to.”

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

The Bible is said to be worth around £500 but has far greater sentimental value.

Lady Leicester said: “The Bible has been in my family for 145 years and generations of people will have read it.

“The parochial church council will now come together to decide if it remains in the church.

“I really hope it does, because there is no point in having it sitting somewhere, hidden away, unused.

“The Bible has been stolen once in 145 years and 99.9pc of people who go to church are honest people so I think we need to have trust in people and leave the Bible in the church, as it was intended.”

Do you have a crime story? E mail peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

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