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French and Rutland villages to twin after Tinwell crucifix return to Doingt-Flamincourt





A community is to roll out the red carpet to French visitors as two villages brought together by a First World War crucifix prepare to twin.

The small Rutland village of Tinwell made national headlines last year after parishioners returned a crucifix back to its original home in Doingt, in north-east France.

It had previously sat on the All Saints Church altar for almost 80 years after being recovered from a Somme battlefield and brought back to England.

Tinwell's new twinning road sign incorporates the Rutland horseshoe symbol and the shield of Doingt-Flamicourt
Tinwell's new twinning road sign incorporates the Rutland horseshoe symbol and the shield of Doingt-Flamicourt

Both communities decided to formalise their bonds through twinning which will be celebrated when a seven-strong group from Doingt make the return journey to Tinwell later this month.

“They made us so welcome and we got on so well that we asked them back before we had even left,” said June Dodkin.

June’s research into the cross, which led to its eventual return and laid the platform for the Anglo-French bond.

Jean Dodkin with the crucifix in the Tinwell church of All Saints
Jean Dodkin with the crucifix in the Tinwell church of All Saints

The group will arrive on Friday, June 28 for a weekend of events, starting with a welcome dinner.

On Saturday, the visitors will be taken on a tour of Burghley House, near Stamford, before a celebratory fete in Tinwell that afternoon, complete with traditional games.

A special mass will be held at 6pm in All Saints, taken by Father Jean Brunel. He led the service in Doingt welcoming back the crucifix, alongside the vicar of Ketton and Tinwell, the Rev Olwen Woolcock.

Tinwell children carry the cross to its new home. Photo: Chris Dodkin
Tinwell children carry the cross to its new home. Photo: Chris Dodkin

Rev Woolcock retired from the post last November, but was keen to help co-ordinate the return visit.

A main evening celebration will follow the mass, featuring a hog roast and jazz band where the whole village is invited to celebrate.

The French guests will also be presented with a twinning sign which combines the Rutland horseshoe and the Doingt-Flamicourt shield.

The Mayor and Doingt community thank the Tinwell visitors. Photo: Chris Dodkin
The Mayor and Doingt community thank the Tinwell visitors. Photo: Chris Dodkin

The weekend will be capped with a tour of Stamford on Sunday before heading home.

“We’re trying to emulate what they did for us which was incredible - it was completely out of the blue,” said David Jarvis, Tinwell parish clerk.

“We thought it would be a relatively low-key event and it turned out to be an incredibly important event for the community. We were so well received.”

The Tinwell group were invited to take part in the ceremony, held on the anniversary of the start of the battle. Photo: Chris Dodkin
The Tinwell group were invited to take part in the ceremony, held on the anniversary of the start of the battle. Photo: Chris Dodkin

George Earl, who carved a replacement crucifix for All Saints, has also been invited to the celebrations along with George Woolf.

As well as the mayor and priest, the visiting group will also feature members of the historical society, Mémoire de Doingt-Flamicourt.

“We didn’t realise how important it was to them,” David added. “They were incredibly grateful.

The crucifix back in its new home. Photo: Chris Dodkin
The crucifix back in its new home. Photo: Chris Dodkin

“Their historical society is so determined to fill gaps in their understanding.

“They are searching back on graves that are unmarked, trying to find out who these people are, and they’re not French people. These are Europeans of all nationalities.

“We want to return the favour, return their gratitude and make sure we rekindle the friendships and memories we had from that visit and possibly turn it into an annual or semi-annual event.”



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