Biblical mystery solved

A MYSTERY of biblical proportions may have finally been solved today after more than 50 years.

A MYSTERY of biblical proportions may have finally been solved today after more than 50 years.

The story of Fred Girling's bible was featured in The Evening Star last month after the former painter and decorator decided to reunite the good book with its rightful owner.

Mr Girling, 73, discovered the tiny bible in 1954 while working during his five years as an apprentice for A.E. Blasby of Ipswich - the company hired to clear the contents of Pettistree Lodge, near Ufford.

A 16-year-old Mr Girling and his workmates were called in by new owners Lord and Lady Entwistle and while clearing the house he made the discovery.

He kept the book in a lunch box until deciding to find the ancestors of whoever inscribed the inside cover with the words: “JC Coldbeck - Whitehaven, Cumberland, England. February 15, 1875.”

Now, a relative of J C Coldbeck has come forward to claim what once belonged to her husband's ancestor.

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Teresa Colbeck, who lives in Liverpool with husband John and has been researching her family tree for the last few years, was delighted to discover that a piece of her heritage had turned up 250 miles away in Suffolk. Her research so far goes back to 1720 when Abraham Coldbeck married Jane Nicholson in Cumberland.

The 73-year-old retired nursing sister said: “I believe the bible once belonged to a relative of my husband, whose family originated from Whitehaven.

“I don't know how it came to Suffolk but it has been suggested that it may have been bought in a second hand bookshop or through a house clearance because I can't find any Coldbecks living or working in this area.

“It is very exciting to find a piece of my husband's history but also puzzling. I will continue to see if I can find a clue and have been exploring the fact that James or in fact any members of his family left a will in which a bible was bequeathed to someone.

“This has been a really happy find- if somewhat of a mystery.”

Mr Girling was equally pleased to see the bible return to a member of JC Coldbeck's family.

He said: “It's pretty obvious it hails from Teresa's family and I'm happy it will be returning to them.

“All I can remember about Pettistree Lodge is that it was a very grand house. From the day I found the bible I assumed it had belonged to a maid or servant who worked there.”

Have you found something with a fascinating history? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

Joan Peck, history recorder for the village of Pettistree, tried to describe what kind of person the bible might have belonged to. She said: “The date in the bible helps us narrow it down to a certain time. As for what this chap did for a living, there were footmen, coachmen and grooms working at the Lodge so it could have been any one of them.”

Tony Cox of Claude Cox books in Silent Street, Ipswich, didn't value the book highly in terms of hard cash but thought its sentimental worth was priceless. He said: “Bible's like this are commonplace because people don't tend to throw them away. 1875 is like yesterday from a collector's point of view and bibles only get interesting at about the 1610 mark.

“Of course the value transforms when it has some personal significance. A bible which belonged to a family member can be of great value to them.”

Other intriguing antique discoveries made in recent years:

In 2004, a rare 19th century corkscrew valued at up to �1,200 was discovered by experts during a valuation day in mid Wales.

The Royal Club corkscrew, made by Birmingham pewter maker Charles Hull, belonged to a woman whose husband found it while renovating a house more than 20 years ago.

A rare Bugatti motor car, one of only 17 of its kind, was discovered earlier this month in a lock-up in Newcastle.

The 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante was left there by its owner Harold Carr in 1960 with just 26,000 miles on the clock.

The car is expected up to six million pounds when it is auctioned in February.

An antique sideboard left for 20 years in a barn was expected to fetch �35,000 at auction in 2003.

But the piece of furniture, made from a design by the man who helped draw up the Houses of Parliament and bought for just �6 in 1931, did not attract a bid at auction.