Rare New Testament belonging to Cathedral turns up in Charity Shop
7th November 2014
A rare 16th century copy of the New Testament belonging to Exeter Cathedral has turned in a charity shop 150 miles away in Surrey.
The volume, Jesu Christi D.N. Nouum Testamentum, was edited by the Frenchman Theodore Beza, an important figure in the Reformation and a contemporary of John Calvin. It is in Latin, and was published in 1574 by Thomas Vautrollier, a French Huguenot refugee who became a leading printer of religious books in England.
It was recognised by a browser in the Oxfam shop in Dorking, Surrey, who noticed that it contained a dedication to E. C. Harington, dated 1869. He was Edward Charles Harington, a former Canon Chancellor of Exeter Cathedral, who donated, his extensive collection of books to the Dean and Chapter on his death.
The cathedral's Canon Librarian, Ann Barwood, said: "The man who found it thought it might have been stolen from our library and got in touch.
"Checks in our computer catalogue and the 19th-century catalogue of the Harington Collection failed to find it, but neither are comprehensive, and several books were stolen from the library in the 1970s and '80s.”
The manager of Oxfam said the book was donated anonymously, and slipped into a box with ordinary cookery, gardening and other paperbacks.
Oxfam offered to send the book back to Exeter Cathedral’s Library, but archivist Ellie Jones was despatched to collect the rare volume, and make a donation to Oxfam in return.
Mrs Barwood said the Cathedral was delighted to get the New Testament back. “The Cathedral Library has two other copies of this New Testament but they are different editions.
“Our research suggests that we may be the only Cathedral Library with this actual edition – adding to our unique collection of books and documents.”