Vestments may find their way home after 100 years

Joan Croft, left, Sandy Eacott, Anglican Bishop Len Eacott, Dale Paynting, Fr Chris Hanlon and Kate Ashton with the vestments (The Catholic Leader/Joe Higgins)

Three damaged, gold-threaded vestments picked up by a British medical assistant in a Catholic church somewhere in Flanders in 1914-15 could be on their way back to Belgium. Source: The Catholic Leader.

The vestments had been sitting in storage in Gold Coast resident Dale Paynting’s home for many years – heirlooms passed down by her grandfather, Arthur – and were on their way to be put up for sale at the local op-shop.

When Dale’s friend Joan Croft, an Anglican who also lived on the Gold Coast, saw the vestments, she recognised they were special and started a series of phone calls that brought the vestments under the eyes of retired Anglican Bishop Len Eacott.

Bishop Eacott had served much of his life and ministry in the Australian Defence Force and at one point had served as director general of chaplaincy for the Australian Army.

He understood the historical significance of the vestments and drafted up a statement of provenance – a document that details the objects and their ownership history.

Bishop Eacott identified St Martin’s Cathedral in Ypres or St Nicholas’ Church in Messines as the most likely places Arthur could have found the vestments.

A party of four – Dale, Joan, Bishop Eacott and his wife Sandy – were moved to repatriate the vestments to the Catholic Church and drove up to Brisbane archdiocese’s archives to return them after more than 100 years.

Archivist Kate Ashton received the vestments on behalf of the Church and said she was happy to see their safe return.

The story of the vestments is only beginning to be unearthed as Ms Ashton and Brisbane archdiocesan archivist Fr Chris Hanlon study them more closely and work out the logistics of possibly returning them to the Diocese of Brugge.


Granddaughter of British Great War medic returns Catholic vestments to Church archives in Brisbane (By Joe Higgins, The Catholic Leader)

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