A RARE 400-year-old Bible worth at least £50,000 has been uncovered at St Mary’s Parish Church, Gisburn.

Printed in 1611 by Robert Barker in London 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 when parish priests Anderson Jeremiah and Alexander Baker began exploring the nooks and crannies of the medieval parish church after starting work there in August,2014.

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, mentions "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 for all that time.

Only a handful of the She Bibles still exist, mostly at major universities such as Oxford and Cambridge as well as a few in cathedrals such as Salisbury, Exeter and Durham.

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.

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.

“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.”

Mr Jeremiah added: “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."

It will be held at a secure location.