Rare stolen artefact on display at Chichester Cathedral

Coombes Crucifix
Coombes Crucifix

A rare fragment of early medieval sacred metalwork, recently discovered four years after being stolen, is now on display at Chichester Cathedral.

The ‘Coombes Crucifix’ is on loan from the parish of Coombes, which displayed the artefact for years after it was found in the churchyard in 1877.

A spokesperson for Chichester Cathedral said: “The Coombes Crucifix has an interesting and unusual history.

“After it was found in the churchyard, it was exhibited for many years before being stolen in 2012.

“Four years later it came to the notice of West Mercia Police and thankfully was returned to the parish.

“They, being anxious that it should be on public display in secure conditions, kindly offered it on loan to the cathedral.

“The presentation took place at a small ceremony in the cathedral treasury following evensong on Thursday, January 26.”

The crucifix is thought to be of Limoges 13th century workmanship and amazingly it retains fragments of the original gilding and enamelling.

There are occasional finds of Limoges enamel fragments in England, but a piece of this quality, with a local church link, is a rarity, the spokesperson added.

They said: “The damage to the figure suggests that it has suffered some violence, which may have been wilful and could be linked to the reformation.”

The crucifix can be found at the cathedral treasury, which is located within the Cathedral and is open daily with free entry.