A RETIRED priest has rescued a Victorian illustrated Bible from
a skip after staff at a council waste-recycling site initially told
him that he could not have it on health and safety grounds.
When the priest, the Revd Andrew Woodhouse, tried to pick up the
leather-bound Old Testament from a mattress beside the skip at the
tip at Leeming Bar, in North Yorkshire, a member of staff seized
"He told me it was dangerous," Mr Woodhouse said on Thursday of
last week. "I asked: 'What the hell has health and safety got to do
with it?' It wasn't in the skip, just resting on the edge. I was
absolutely fuming. There was more danger of a health and safety
incident if he'd dropped it on his toe."
Mr Woodhouse had already re- covered its companion New Testament
from its owner, who was dumping both volumes and who told him where
he had put the other one. "As I went to get it, this attendant
grabbed it. I said the owner had told me I could have it, but he
went to his shed and locked it in."
Still angry, Mr Woodhouse tipped off his local weekly paper, who
ran a story. Soon after it appeared, he was contacted by an
official from Hambledon Council who said he want to present him
with the disputed Bible.
Mr Woodhouse suggested that it could go to St Gregory's, in
Bedale near by, where he worships and occasionally ministers. It
was only then that he researched the Bible on the web, and
discovered that its 200 illustrations were by the French artist
Doré's work was popular in both Europe and the United States -
more than 1.5 million people visited a Doré exhibition in Chicago
in 1896 - and his style is said to have influenced early filmmakers
such as D. W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille. Scenes from DeMille's
1923 and 1956 versions of The Ten Commandments are said to
resemble Doré's pictures.
"I'd never heard of him [Doré]," Mr Woodhouse said. "His books
can be quite valuable, but the cover on one is badly damaged."
The Rector, the Revd Ian Robinson, plans to have it restored for
use as a teaching aid for visiting school parties. "We tend to use
the NRSV, but could occasionally use it in our Book of Common
"We didn't know it was a Doré Bible until we got it home; so
Andrew wasn't saving it as a Doré Bible, just the word of God."