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The Curious Case of the Stolen Candlesticks

Four long years ago, two of our six reredos candlesticks vanished one day – stolen while the church was unattended. A police report was made, but there was no realistic hope of recovery. We accepted then, as we do now, that such a loss is a price worth paying for keeping the church open as a place of welcome, peace, and solace.

Two reredos candlesticks in the Memorial ChapelIt now turns out that, since leaving us, the candlesticks have been on a journey. We have no idea through how many hands they have passed, but on 24 February I spotted a suspiciously similar pair as having just been sold by a Scottish auction house.

The next day, after Mass, I took photos and measurements of one of our remaining four, emailed them to the auctioneer (whom I know); alerted her to the likelihood that the ones just sold were, in fact, ours; and asked her not to release them to the buyer till we had had a chance to check them.

First thing Monday morning, I headed to the auction house and was able to show that the ones sold were not just similar to those we had lost, but identical in every detail. The auctioneer explained that, regrettably, she would be unable to find out how or when they had been acquired by the seller, as they came from what is called, in the trade, a deceased estate, and from what was, as far as she could tell, a completely respectable house.Four reredos candlesticks at OSP

The auctioneer, not unreasonably, requested that we bring in one of our remaining candlesticks so that a proper comparison could be made. This Fr John did that same afternoon, whereupon the auctioneer contacted the executors who had sent the candlesticks to auction, who immediately agreed that they should come back to us at once. And thus it was that Fr John brought them home in triumph.

Though of no great financial value, these candlesticks are precious to us as having been given, as recorded on a plaque affixed to the side of the reredos, “by members of the congregation in proud memory of the thirty four young men who gave their lives in the war of 1939-45 and whose names are recorded in the Warriors’ Chapel.”

Below this are inscribed these words:

As these light shine to the glory of God, so may the light of Christ shine upon them.

Mark Gibson