Rare King James Bible found in Hilmarton Church

A rare original King James Bible has been discovered on a shelf in Hilmarton church.
The discovery was made by residents researching the history of St Laurence Church.
Geoff Procter,said they read about a “fine chained Bible in a glass case” at the church.
They then made the link with a Bible that had been sitting on a shelf at the church for a number of years.
Mr Procter said: “We started doing some research and discovered that the Bible that, as far as I’d known, had always stood on a shelf at the church was in fact 400 years old.”
There are fewer than 200 original printings of the King James version known to exist. And it is believed that the rediscovered Bible is one of the few remaining editions printed in 1611.
“It’s one of those sorts of information that you don’t know whether you should tell everybody or nobody,” said Mr Procter.
“But we thought that it was such an important artefact of the church and indeed the Church of England generally that we thought we ought to do some more research.”
Described as a fragment, despite most of the Bible being intact, it was first “rediscovered” in the 1800s.
“But we thought that it was such an important artefact of the church and indeed the Church of England generally that we thought we ought to do some more research.”
Described as a fragment, despite most of the Bible being intact, it was first “rediscovered” in the 1800s. Since then it has suffered from both the ravages of time and some human interference. “The Reverend Francis Fisher found it in 1857 realised it was important and then tidied it up,” explained Mr Procter. “He actually carved a cover from oak but trimmed the pages so that in places the top of the pages are missing.”
The church now intends to get a glass case to keep the Bible in – partly for security and partly to protect it for future generations but also because the history books say it was kept in one.
Mr Procter said the most important thing about the Bible was that it was meant to be a living working book for people to live by.
“Well I think what it’s going to do is enable us to talk about the Bible,” he said.
“Because in a secular world it’s seen as an important document it will actually bring the opportunities to us to go and discuss it in more detail. “When we took it for evaluation to the curator of a Bible museum, one of the first things he said was whatever you do you must display this so that people can read the word.
“That stuck with me – you know the fact that it’s what it says rather than what it is.”
A Service of Celebration to mark the 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible. An historic and special pilgrimage took place on Wednesday 16th November by parishioners of St Laurence Parish Church Hilmarton to a service in Westminster Abbey. The service took place in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and his Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. The advance party taking the 400 year old King James Bible from St Laurence Parish Church Hilmarton to Westminster Abbey for the processional service was John Henly, Churchwarden, St Laurence Parish Church Hilmarton with his daughter Lauren Henly, Chris Mastin Lee Deputy Chair of Hilmarton Parochial Church Council with two of his children, Tom Mastin Lee and Annabel Mastin Lee. Chris Mastin-Lee and Tom and Lauren Henly took part in the Service. They all had to leave Hilmarton and Goatacre very early to be at the Abbey in time for the rehearsals at 8.30.
A coach party, from the Parish arrived at the Abbey at 11.15 in readiness for the service starting at noon. The Archbishop of Canterbury The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr Rowan Williams gave the address and there were various readings and prayers including one by The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr John Sentamu Archbishop of York. New hymns and other musical works specially written for the event were performed. All this with a back drop of five King James Bibles resting on the High Altar.
After the service the King James Bible Trust invited all those involved with the St Laurence, King James Bible to a reception at Church house, Westminster, where the party, among others, met Frank Field MP, The Most Honourable the Marquess of Salisbury , Sir Donald Sinden and Revd David Smith who is Curator of The Museum of the Book in Limehouse London and was the latest expert to authenticate the St Laurence Bible.
The representatives from Hilmarton Parish included members of the Parochial Church Council and benefactors toward the design and building of a special display lectern which will house the St Laurence Bible. This is being undertaken by local artist and designer Alan Tilbury who attended the reception with his wife Catherine.
Westminster Abbey Report on the service:

http://www.westminster-abbey.org/press/news/news/2011/november/hm-the-queen-attends-king-james-bible-service

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