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Timepiece stolen from Kiplin Hall recovered after 36 years
A COUNTRY house that was burgled 36 years ago has finally been reunited with one of the items stolen – a 19th Century marine chronometer.
Staff at Kiplin Hall, in Scorton, near Richmond , North Yorkshire, had long given up on the crime on December 10, 1976, when several clocks, some oriental ceramic pieces and a Dent marine chronometer, number 1803, were stolen.
But in April this year, the hall’s curator, Dawn Webster, received an email from a man in possession of a chronometer – bought at Christie’s in London in 2009 for £6,500 – who wanted some information on Walter Talbot, owner of Kiplin Hall from 1868 until 1904.
Miss Webster said: “The man wanted to know more about Walter Talbot because the chronometer has a paper label attached to it that reads: ‘Capt. The Hon. WC Talbot, HMS Steady’.
“He realised it may be important to Kiplin Hall and offered to sell it back to the hall for £12,000 – way above our budget.”
The chronometer was then put into an auction at Bonham’s in Leeds, where it was given a guide price of £6,000 to £8,000 – still too high for the Kiplin Hall team.
But luck was on their side.
Miss Webster said: “Kiplin archive volunteer Nick Ellis was working through one of more than 30 boxes of the trustees’ archives.
“While awaiting notification of the date of the auction, Mr Ellis found letters between a former caretaker of Kiplin, Tom Prime, and the then land agent, John Bailey.
“The correspondence related to a burglary from the drawing room and library on the night of December 10 to 11, 1976, when the items were stolen.”
Miss Webster contacted North Yorkshire Police and the chronometer was withdrawn from the sale.
She said: “The fourth reincarnation of the 1976 insurance company said it did not wish to make any claim to it, having also enjoyed the story, and the chronometer was declared to be still the property of the trust.
“Now we just need to find those clocks and ceramics.”
The chronometer will be displayed from Monday, in the Travellers’ bedroom.
The hall is open Sunday to Wednesday, from 2pm to 5pm, until the end of October, and is midway between Richmond and Northallerton on the B6271. For more information, call 01748-818178 or visit kiplinhall.co.uk