A priceless brass, which dates back to the 16th century, was returned to its rightful owners yesterday after languishing in a West Norfolk church for around 200 years.
Church leaders in Outwell have returned the brass to their counterparts in the parish of Lenton, near Grantham, from where the artefact was removed in the early 19th century.
The item, a brass effigy and plate, celebrates the life and death of Richard Quadryng, an esquire of a notable Lincolnshire family who died in 1511.
It was fixed to the wall of the Lenton church and would probably have remained there but for the curious actions of a cleric who had different ideas.
The Rev William Hardwicke, Vicar of Lenton (1824-1835) was also Rector of Outwell (1803-1838) and, for reasons which are uncertain, decided to take the brass to Outwell where it eventually appeared fixed to the north wall.
It remained there until the church was re-decorated in 2015.
The current parish priest for Outwell and Upwell, the Rev Paul Skillings, said: “The motives behind the removal are lost in time.
“It may have been to keep an eye on an asset which was a popular target for theft at the time – it may have been for more personal acquisitive reasons – we will never know.
“The vicar met an untimely death when he was found drowned in what is now Welle Creek, reputably having slipped off a footbridge.
“After 190-plus years it was felt that it was time to return the brass to its rightful home and after a lot of the inevitable red tape this is now possible.
“A wrong has been put right and Richard’s remains and his brass effigy can now be re-united. I am happy to have partly instrumental in this reunion.
“David Millichamp from Lenton and David Mann from Outwell, along with the support of the church councils of both parishes, can now be happy that this historical anomaly has been properly put to rest.”