Keith Hunt - Jacob's Pillar #6   Restitution of All Things
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Jacob's PILLAR #6

The Theft of the Stone

                             Jacob's PILLAR #6


by Raymond Capt M.A., A.I.A., F.S.A., Scot



THEFT OF THE STONE  



     On Christmas Eve, 1950, the recesses of St. Edward's Chapel
in Westminster Abby echoed to the sweet music of Noel. In the
Chapel stood Britain's Coronation Chair, under it the Coronation
Stone, standing just as they had stood for seven hundred years.
In the silent, eerie dimness of the early hours of Christmas
morning, furtive figures stealthily entered St. Edward's Chapel,
then were gone - and so was the Coronation Stone.

     How and by whom, this Stone, weighing over 300 pounds, was
so surreptiously spirited from its resting-place, out of the
locked Abbey, was once one of Britain's greatest mysteries. A
splinter broken from the leg of the Coronation Chair, a short
crowbar, some fingerprints, an unidentified wristwatch on the
flagstones of the Abbey floor, marks on the altar step's carpet
where the Stone had been dragged, and "J.F.S." carved on the
chair itself were the only evidence of the "sacrilegious" crime
which shocked all Britain. Naturally, the solving of such a crime
became the first priority of Scotland Yard.

     Despite the lack of evidence, it was believed that it
was stolen by persons having sympathy with the Scottish
Nationalist movement. A week after the theft a letter was handed
into the office of a Glasgow newspaper, the Daily Record, asking
that one copy of the Petition accompanying the letter should go
to the police and the other to the press. The Petition stated:

"The petition of certain of his Majesty's most loyal and obedient
subjects to his Majesty King George the Sixth humbly sheweth:
That his Majesty's petitioners are the persons who removed the
Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey:
That, in removing the Stone of Destiny, they have no desire to
injure his Majesty's property, nor to pay disrespect to the
Church of which he is the temporal head:
That the Stone of Destiny is, however, the most ancient symbol of
Scottish nationality and, having been removed from Scotland by
force and retained in England in breach of the pledge of his
Majesty's predecessor, King Edward III of England, and its proper
place of retention is among his Majesty's Scottish people who,
above all, hold this symbol dear:
That therefore his Majesty's petitioners will most readily return
the stone to the safe keeping of his Majesty's officers if his
Majesty will but graciously assure them that in all time coming
the Stone will remain in Scotland in such of his Majesty's
properties or otherwise as shall be deemed fitting by him:
That such an assurance will in no way preclude the use of the
Stone in any coronation of any of his Majesty's successors
whether in England or Scotland:
That his Majesty's humble petitioners are prepared to submit to
his Majesty's Ministers or their representatives proof that they
are the people able, willing, and eager to restore the Stone of
Destiny to the keeping of his Majesty's officers:
That his Majesty's petitioners, who have served him in peril and
peace, pledge again their loyalty to him, saving always their
right and duty to protest against the actions of his Ministers if
such actions are contrary to the wishes of the spirit of his
Majesty's people:
In witness of the good faith of his Majesty's petitioners the
following information concerning a watch left in Westminster
Abbey on December 25, 1950, is appended: (1) The mainspring of
the watch was recently repaired; (2) The bar holding the
right-hand wrist strap to the watch had recently been broken and
soldered:
This information is given in lieu of signature by his Majesty's
petitioners, being in fear of apprehension: "(Scottish Daily
Express, Dec.30, 1950).

     There is an interesting story surrounding the actual taking
of the Coronation Stone from Westminster Abbey and its escape to
Scotland, which is offered as "hearsay". In pulling the Stone, by
one of the iron rings (one embedded in each of the ends of the
Stone), along the Abbey floor, an ancient crack in the Stone
parted. The Stone of Destiny lay in two pieces. Its weight
divided into two parts facilitated its removal from the Abbey.
Soon after the theft, an alarm was given and road-blocks were set
up on all roads leading out of England, and everyone was asked to
be on the look-out for the Stone - to report any suspicious
circumstances. The car, with the Stone concealed as a cushion in
the back seat with a coat covering it made a stop near the
Scottish border for gasoline. When the occupants of the car were
asked by the station attendant if they had the Stone of Destiny
with them, they replied, "Aye sure, its in there, its in the
boot". Letting the reward of over $2000.00 for information
leading to the recovery of the Stone slip through his fingers the
attendant laughing said, "Well, the police have been round once
asking me what Scotsman I've given petrol to. If they come back,
I'll tell them the Stone went through this morning".

     The Stone was subsequently repaired by doweling and cement.
But, before sealing the two pieces together, a copy of the
Scottish "Declaration of Independence" was placed between them.

     If true, then perhaps Scottish patriotism which naturally
cries out for the Stone's restoration will be satisfied. Legally,
the arguments in the "petition" are invalid. The Treaty of
Northampton, referred to in the petition, was negotiated, not
between England and Scotland, but between Edward, King of England
and Robert, King of Scots. Since the rights of both later became
vested in the same person, King George VI, the Sovereign of the
United Kingdom, no transfer of title between them can make any
difference today. The ownership of the Stone of Destiny is
incontestable. It belongs to the heirs and descendants of King
George VI who can trace his or her descent from both Edward III
of England and Robert, King of the Scots.

     Eventually the Stone of Destiny was recovered by the
English. It was wrapped up in the Scottish flag (St. Andrew's
Cross) and left upon the high altar of the ruined Abbey of
Arbroath in Scotland, then the British authorities were notified
of where it could be found. It was at Arbroath Abbey that King
Robert the Bruce and the Scottish Barons drew up the famous
"Declaration of Independence" which included the following:

"For so long as a hundred of us are left alive we will yield in
no least way to English domination. We fight not for glory, nor
for wealth nor for honour, but only and alone for freedom, which
no good man surrenders but with his life".

                          ......................

Note:

It was many decades later from 1950, but the Scottish people were
eventually given custodianship of the famous "coronation stone."
The Stone now resides in Scotland, to return to London for the
next coronation of the next British king - Keith Hunt


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