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Surprise as Norwich Bible is worth thousands

2008: JanePrattBibleA Norwich churchgoer was stunned when she took her Bible to her place of worship and was told it could be worth several thousand pounds.

St George's Church in Tombland threw open its doors on September 20 so people could have their family heirlooms valued.

Jane Pratt (pictured right), 58, from Thorpe St Andrew, who is a member of the congregation at the church, saw the event as a great opportunity to find out how much a Bible which had been in her family for generations was worth.

And she got a shock when Nick Bundock, senior valuer with Acle auctioneers Horner's, told her it was probably worth several thousand pounds.

The former languages teacher, who has taught around the world in Burma, Hungary and Hong Kong, said: “It's been in the family for hundreds of years, but when I got it, it was in a bad state. I spent £350 getting a woman who lives in Earlham Green Lane, Norwich to restore it. I did not know how much it was worth.

“I would like to sell it and recoup my expenditure on it. I'm originally from Stowmarket so, ideally, I would like it to go back to Suffolk. I would like some of the money for it to go to St George's Church as well.”

She said the bible came to her through her grandmother Jeanie Long, who lived at Winston Hall near Debenham in Suffolk.

Mr Bundock said it was a “privilege” to touch the large and heavy book.

He said: “I have never seen one like this come up at auction. The book was made in 1690 by Samuel Clark, who lived from 1626 and 1701, and was a minister who produced an annotated version of the bible.

“He started off as an Anglican but at the time of Cromwell he became a Non-Conformist, and this is a Non-Conformist bible. It's more of historical interest than religious interest, because of Samuel Clark, whose career spanned some of the most tumultuous events of the 17th century.”

Mr Bundock said he would carry out more research on the book before giving Mrs Pratt a final estimate of its worth.

The event was held as a fundraiser for the church, with people asked to make a small donation to allow them to take their items to the charity valuation day of antiques, fine art and collectibles.

The antiques were valued by Horner's, which will also give the church 50pc of the vendor's commission earned on any items brought along and later sold by auction.

The churches' eventual aim is to reopen the north porch for disabled access, and is trying to raise about £250,000.

The Rev Canon John Minns, priest-in-charge, said: “The day went very well. Some of the items brought in are going to auction.

“By asking everyone for a £1 donation we raised about £100, but more importantly the church doors were open and people were welcome to come in throughout the day.”

Article and picture courtesy of www.eveningnews24.co.uk

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