Chichester Cathedral

Cathedral-goers get up-close look at snatched medieval crucifix

Mon 06 Feb 2017
By Alex Williams

An early medieval figure of Jesus which was stolen and vanished for four years is now available to visitors to Chichester Cathedral in West Sussex, though it is being kept under secure conditions.

The metalwork piece known as the 'Coombes Crucifix' is joining artefacts at the landmark's Cathedral Treasury, following concerns that it should be kept secure.

The sacred figure, which measures less than 10cm in height and depicts a crowned figure of Christ, was discovered in the churchyard of Coombes Parish Church near Shoreham-by-Sea in 1877.

It was stolen in 2012 but returned to the church four years later, after it came to the attention of West Mercia Police.

In a statement, Chichester Cathedral said: "They [Coombes Parish Church] were anxious that it should be on public display in secure conditions, kindly offered it on loan to the Cathedral."

Composed of hammered and engraved copper, it is thought the Crucifix originated from Limoges in France, which was a medieval centre for the metalworking and enamelling industry at the time.

The Cathedral went on to say: "There are occasional finds of Limoges enamel fragments in England, but a piece of this quality, with a local church link, is a rarity.

"It was probably made as an attachment to an altar or a processional cross, and is made out of copper, which has been hammered and engraved.

"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 Cathedral Treasury at Chichester Cathedral is open daily and entry is free.

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