A RARE 400-year-old Bible worth at least £50,000 has been uncovered in a small East Lancashire village church.

Printed in 1611 and known as the ‘Great She Bible’, it is one of the earliest known copies of the famous King James Version (KJV) Bible.


The book was discovered in a cupboard by the Rev Anderson Jeremiah and the Rev Alexander Baker following their appointment in August 2014, when they began exploring the nooks and crannies of the medieval parish church in Gisburn.

Although the church’s inventory listed ‘an old Bible’, it’s rarity was not recognised until now.

Mr Baker said: “It was a really exciting thing to discover — it looks just like something out of Harry Potter.

“One of the wonderful things about worshipping in a church as old as ours is the sense of history that oozes from its walls and discovering the treasures it has to offer.

Lancashire Telegraph:

“But we were stunned to discover a treasure as rare as this. We knew as soon as we saw the date of the New Testament it was a significant find.”

There are no plans to sell the Bible, which will be kept as part of the church’s heritage.

After initially discussing their find with the British Library, the Bible has now been assessed and authenticated by Neil Summersgill, a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association based in Blackburn.

The parish history, which dates back to 1135 when the church was first dedicated, makes mention of ‘a few old prayer books and an old Bible’ among the historical assets of the church. The historical significance of the Bible was not highlighted in the records so it had lain unrecognised in a cupboard at the back of the church.

The ‘Great’ version was a large one designed for pulpits and it was printed in elaborate Gothic script.

Only a handful of the ‘She Bibles’ still exist. It is called a ‘She Bible’ because in Ruth chapter 3 verse 15 it says ‘She went into the city’. This verse was changed from another edition of the KJV which said ‘he’. It was thought to be a typographical mistake.

The ‘She Bible’ was printed in 1611. It is now thought that He and She Bibles were printed at the same time on different printing presses.

Mr Jeremiah said: “It’s amazing to think we are able to hold a book printed as the direct result of the command of King James 400 years ago.

“This English language version of the Bible was created to encourage ordinary people to discover the good news of Jesus Christ for themselves and it is likely that it was the book that first took God’s word into many people’s homes in this part of Lancashire.”

The Bible can be seen this Saturday from 10am to 3pm at St Mary’s Parish Church in Gisburn during the annual scarecrow festival. Thereafter it will be held at a secure location.