What if the owners of the property at the time of the 'assumed theft' removed it in order to have it restored and replaced afterwards? They would be quite within their rights, as owners, to do that without telling the world.
Some research would have to done to see how many owners there have been since the 'theft'. Was it ever reported stolen at the time? Lots of questions to be raised here.
I rather fancy that the fountain ended up 'ligitimately' in a nice big private garden...somewhere in Northumberland perhaps or similar. It just didn't find its way back to that hallowed place because it would have been truly in danger of theft if it had been remounted in pristine condition....but this is just guessing on my part. I like the idea that it might have survived and be safe and sound somewhere but let's face it, it could never be returned to its rightful place now.
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