Letter: Narwhal horn sent to Coventry

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The Independent Online
Sir: Andrew Graham-Dixon's article ('For sale, a piece of medieval magic', 7 June), on the narwhal horn pretending to be a unicorn's horn rang a bell.

Coventry Cathedral, which had been badly bombed, was on the point of completion in the Sixties. The architect was Sir Basil Spence and the engineers were Ove Arup and Partners. I had been secretary to Ove Arup for some years and it took a lot to shake me, but one evening in the middle of work, Ove said: 'Oh, by the way, Basil Spence is designing the official clothes for the Bishop of Coventry, and he wants a narwhal horn for the crozier - he seemed to think I could get him one because I was Danish - I don't know why. See what you can do . . .'. He then went on with other work.

I telephoned the Cultural Attache at the Danish Embassy, and gave him the story, with special reference to Sir Basil Spence and Ove Arup (a favourite at the Embassy), and explained how much they would value his help in this important search. The Attache took it in his stride. He took charge from there, and obtained the object. No more was heard.

I went to the Service of Dedication, but I did not get near enough to the Bishop to see his crozier closely. I hope it is a narwhal horn, especially after having absorbed the feeling of its significance from Mr Graham-Dixon's article.

Yours sincerely,


London, N10

7 June

(Photograph omitted)