Church silverware lost in the Christmas post is found at auction

20 March 2020

Worth £8000, it was the third delivery of replacement silver for St Peter’s, Copdock

iStock

The Royal Mail building in Belfast

The Royal Mail building in Belfast

MISSING church plate thought to have been lost in the post has been rediscovered at an auction house, about to go under the hammer.

The silver, worth £8000, went missing in the post over Christmas. It was the third delivery of replacement silverware for St Peter’s, Copdock, in Suffolk, after its original silverware was stolen.

The set was commissioned to replace £70,000-worth of silverware stolen from the church in October 2017, when burglars used a tombstone to smash their way in through the vestry window.

A churchwarden of St Peter’s, Ruth Lincoln, discovered that the final parcel, containing a wafer box, cruet sets, and a ciborium, was missing only after she phoned the company Anvic Silver to ask when the parcel would arrive.

She and the church treasurer, Mike Osborne, spent hours on the phone to Royal Mail, and were initially told that it had been sent to the Royal Mail’s Returns Office in Belfast; but then it vanished off their computer system. Eventually, they were told that it had either been destroyed or auctioned off, and the congregation gave up hope of ever finding it.

But, last week, they received a call saying that it had turned up in an auction house, where it had been about to go under the hammer. It arrived back at the church this week.

Mrs Lincoln said: “We finally have it all, which is great, as we really thought it had gone for ever. But we’ve had no apology from the Royal Mail, or explanation.”

A fellow churchwarden, Adrian Basham, said: “We are very relieved, but it’s absolutely not acceptable that a package can get mislaid in the post and then find its way to an auctioneer’s. We know that it was correctly addressed, too.”

A Royal Mail spokesman said: “Every item of mail is important to Royal Mail. We’re very pleased that these items of silverware have now been found and returned safely to St Peter’s Church. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

St Peter’s had planned a service to celebrate the return of the silverware and the recent redecoration of the church, but that has now been put on hold because of the coronavirus.

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