Charity shop find leads to return of centuries-old bible

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A 400-year-old Bible that vanished from a cathedral more than 40 years ago has finally been found - on sale at a charity shop

The vellum-bound Latin New Testament dating back to 1574 was pinched from the Exeter Cathedral Library in Devon in the 1970s.

It was lost until an Oxfam customer was thumbing through an old bible on sale in Dorking, Surrey, and noticed an inscription reading EC Harington Exeter Oct 22 1867.

The reference was to Canon Edward Charles Harington who bequeathed a set of rare books to the cathedral after he was chancellor in the 1890s.

The clued-up customer, a book dealer, reported his suspicions to staff who removed it from sale and contacted the Diocese of Exeter.

Oxfam volunteer Pauline Whitehead said: “We were all amazed. You just never know what you’re going to get coming in.”

The bible, published in London by the French theologian Theodore Beza, was on public display with the rest of the Harington Collection when it vanished.

Decades on, it was donated to Oxfam anonymously among what manager Mary Palfrey described as a “mishmash” of old books.

Exeter Cathedral archivist Ellie Jones raced to the shop to confirm that the ancient volume - thought to be worth around £1,000 - was genuine.

She then made a donation to Oxfam for finding the lost work, which will be returned to the Harington Collection in a secure section of the library along with other antique manuscripts and books.

Ann Barwood, Canon Librarian at Exeter Cathedral, said everyone at the library was thrilled with the discovery.