GUERNSEY HISTORY 

6th February 1951
Guernsey watchmaker helps Stone of Scone manhunt

A Guernsey watchmaker came to London on 6 February 1951 to help police with inquiries into the theft of the Stone of Scone. The Stone, part of the chair used to crown Britain’s kings and queens, had been stolen by supporters of Scottish independence, on Christmas day 1950.

There were very few clues to go on. This was the pre-CCTV era, after all. Police shut the border between England and Scotland for the first time in 400 years, but didn’t manage to stop it being transported to Scotland, perhaps because it wasn’t taken there directly.

Replica of the Stone of Scone

Broken stone

Its theft was an audacious and brave operation. Four students from the University of Glasgow had broken in to Westminster Abbey and stolen it from the Coronation Chair. They had dropped it as they took it out of the chair’s based, and it had broken into two unequal parts, which they loaded into a car.

They buried the larger part in a field in Kent for a few days, before taking both pieces across the border to Scotland.

The police had only one lead: a wrist watch found on the floor by the chair. “JGC 148” was scratched into the back of the case.

JCG were the initials of James Griffiths. He was a 28-year-old watchmaker in Guernsey who had cleaned the watch in late December 1947. The number 148 signified that the work had been completed in January 1948: three years before the Stone’s theft.

A million to one chance

He came to London on 6 February 1951 and poisitively identified the marking as his own. The Coventry Evening Telegraph reported that he’d stated “the chances of there being any other repairer’s markings being idencical with his are about a million to one [and] that it was highly unlikely that any other watch repairer with the same initials would have cleaned a watch on the very same day as himself”.

Unfortunately, Griffiths couldn’t remember who had brought in the watch, or claimed it.

The stone returned to England in April 1951. It had been left on the altar at Arbroath Abbey, where Scotland had declared its independence in 1320.

Police charged the four students who had taken it, but didn’t prosecute.

Stone of Scone photo by Bubobubo2 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Category: Guernsey History | Other events tagged ,

Check out The Sarnian’s email newsletter for Guernsey history, features, puzzles and pictures. It’s also the first place where you’ll find out about the Sarnian series of books, including sneak previews and discounts.

We will never sell your data to third parties, and there’s an unsubscribe link in every email, so you can leave whenever you like.

What else happened in Guernsey in February?

Guernsey history newsletter

Check out The Sarnian’s email newsletter for Guernsey history, features, puzzles and pictures. It’s also the first place where you’ll find out about the Sarnian series of books, including sneak previews and discounts.

We will never sell your data to third parties, and there’s an unsubscribe link in every email, so you can leave whenever you like.

* indicates required

The Sarnian

The Sarnian Book 1: Dead in the Water

A body on a beach, an impossible alibi and an unstoppable race against time!

Check out the first book in The Sarnian series, set on the Channel Island of Guernsey.

Click here to get your copy today…

December in Guernsey through the years…

Guernsey's comms links are severed

18th December 1979

Castle Cornet surrenders in Civil War

17th December 1651

Alderney's evacuees return after occupation

15th December 1945

Herm bribery case came to court

14th December 1918

Victor Hugo flees France and Napoleon

12th December 1851

Sarnian secrets

Sign up to The Sarnian's occasional newsletter for updates on your favourite characters and locations, to go behind the scenes on the writing process, and for early-bird discounts on every new book. We promise not to share your details with anyone else, and you can easily unsubscribe whenever you choose.
* indicates required

Search the archiveWarning