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Thieves try to knock off lion knocker

06 January 2011

by a staff reporter

TRESPASSERS who scaled and damaged the gates of the north porch of Durham Cathedral last week may have been trying to steal its world-famous door-knocker, police have said.

A would-be thief attempted to prise the knocker from the cathed­ral’s north door between 6 p.m. on 28 December, when the cathedral was locked up, and 7 a.m. the next day, when staff discovered the damage.

The original door-knocker, which is in the form of a lion’s head, dates back to 1140. It is extremely valuable, and was placed in the Treasury Museum at the cathedral 30 years ago. A bronze replica was fixed in its place.

The Chapter Clerk at Durham Cathedral, Philip Davies, said: “It’s very sad that someone should want to do such a thing.”

Traditionally, the Cathedral was a place of sanctuary, and fugitives try­ing to get inside used the knocker to attract the watchman’s attention. Once ad­mitted, they were given sanc­tuary for a maximum of 37 days.

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