Church returns crucifix to France after more than 100 years in Tinwell


The Church of All Saints in Tinwell has embarked on an unlikely partnership with a church in Doingt, France following the discovery that the crucifix that was used by All Saints had been brought back from Doingt during World War I by a former incumbent. 

‘It began with a conversation at the Remembrance Day service in 2018’ says Revd Olwen, current Vicar of All Saints, when the story of the cross was told and one of the young people in the congregation suggested that it was returned to Doingt as a gesture of goodwill and in remembrance of those who lost their lives during the conflict. 

An approach was made to the Mayor’s office in Doingt early in 2019, the link was made and the conversation flourished, maintained by Hubert Boizard of the historical society there, and June Dodkin, in Tinwell.  The Doingt community were very interested in the history and delighted that the church wanted to return the crucifix and particularly pleased that the suggestion came from the young people.  The village has been rebuilt since WW1 and the crucifix is a link with what went before and symbolic of that restoration.  

Both church communities were intrigued as to how the cross had ended up in Tinwell and after lots of investigation it emerged that Parson Hooson, a previous Rector of Tinwell, had described picking it up from the rubble of the battlefield.  More research by Revd Hooson’s grandson, who still lives in the village and has his diaries, uncovered that he was an Army Chaplain, stationed at Doignt during the Great War and it was assumed that he kept possession of the crucifix, bringing it with him to Tinwell in the 1930’s. 

The discovery and the partnership that has been built between the two communities saw the crucifix returned on 1st July by a group from All Saints in a moving ceremony marking the anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme. 

The Rev Olwen Woolcock, vicar of All Saints, said: ‘I think it's a symbol of hope, and the promise of new life – which is exactly what Jesus is. A village once destroyed is rebuilt; where there was trauma and death in 1917, today there is life and community. It was a wonderful feeling doing that service. I was very conscious it was the right place for it to be. It feels great to bring the crucifix back to where it belongs.’ 

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