A HISTORIC silver chalice, which vanished from a church 15 years ago, has been returned after a woman turned detective.
Members of Christ Church URC in Withington, Manchester, thought precious silverware, dating back to 1828, was lost forever after it was stolen in 1993.
The items were found 10 years ago, but because the church had changed its name, they were never reunited with their owners.
Two items, used for Holy Communion, are engraved with the name Christ Church, Rusholme, for which they were made for in the early 19th century.
The smaller plate is engraved Parrs Wood Road Congregational Church, the original name of Christ Church URC when it opened in 1928.
They were all gifts to mark the 1928 opening of the URC in Parrs Wood Road in 1928, from congregations in Rusholme and Heaton Mersey, Stockport.
Unknown to church members, they were found abandoned on a railway line near East Didsbury station by rail manager Russell Marshall 10 years ago.
He handed them to police, who returned them to Russell three months later unaware that the church had been given a different name in the 1940s.
They had been gathering dust in his attic ever since. But Russell’s sister-in-law Debbie Marshall was finally able to solve the mystery after he gave her the silver items when he moved to a new house in Wythenshawe.
Debbie turned detective and found out that the name on the church inscribed on the silverwear was connected to Christ Church URC.
And now the cherished items have been handed back to parishioners by Debbie. The church plans to re-silver the chalice and the two plates found with it, and hold a special re-dedication ceremony so they can once again be used in Communion services.
Church member Roger Smith said he ‘couldn’t believe his ears’ when he received a phone call from Debbie saying she had found them.
He said: “It’s quite incredible to have these items back after so long. We are all absolutely delighted because they mean so much to the church.”
Pharmacy worker Debbie, 40, who lives in Altrincham with husband Adam, went to the church to present the silver to parishioners.
She said: “One gentleman had tears in his eyes when he saw the chalice and plates again after all these years.
“He told me it was better than getting £1m. It was a bit strange the police couldn’t trace the church 10 years ago. Some people who found silver would have just tried to sell it, but I thought it right to give it back.”
in Manchester Evening News