A man who had called to trace the history of a chronometer he bought at auction received a surprise when it turned out the Dent timepiece was stolen back in 1976 from a Yorkshire country house.
Kiplin Hall in North Yorkshire fell victim to theft some 36 years ago when its 19th century Dent chronometer, several other clocks and ceramics were stolen from its drawing room.
It is believed that a man had emailed Kiplin Hall’s curator Dawn Webster in April this year, having purchased the missing chronometer at Christie’s in 2009 for £6,500.
According to the Northen Echo, the man was after information relating to Walter Talbot, owner of the country home between 1868 and 1904.
Webster told the paper: “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 later put up for auction at Bonham’s in Leeds, where it was given a guide price of £6,000 to £8,000, said to be beyond the means of the hall to buy it back.
In a twist of fate one of the hall’s archive volunteers Nick Ellis was working through 30 boxes of the trustees’ archives when he discovered a letter 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. Webster contacted North Yorkshire Police and the chronometer was withdrawn from the sale.
It was found to still be the property of the trust and was returned to Kiplin Hall where it is on display for the public to view.