‘Time travellers’ from a century ago left a variety of fascinating objects hidden in the fireplace of their Putford cottage for future generations to find...
Shoes to ward of evil spirits and a toy cannon are among a fascinating assortment or artefacts unearthed in a century-old time capsule on Torridgeside.
Builders working at Littlecot in East Putford have found a carefully sealed up old-fashioned oven – complete with cast iron door – in the fireplace of the 19th century cob farm cottage.
Other oddities include the tooth of a horse-drawn plough, cooking implements, old hand shears and other items from daily life of 100 years or more ago.
Bideford builder Andy Curtis of AHJ Curtis said the items are not chance finds, but they and the oven had been carefully sealed up behind a stone wall in the fireplace for future generations to find.
Andy and his workmate Lawrence Linciano are restoring the inglenook fireplace and installing a wood burner for new Littlecot owner Nigel Jarmin, who moved in with his wife Perry and son Sam four months ago.
The little cannon they discovered is a tinplate toy howitzer that Andy – who also owns collectables store The Strange Shop in Bideford – believes is a very rare German-made toy imported into the country before World War One.
He said there could well be more treasures to discover: “Over 35 years in building I have found several bread ovens in fireplaces but never one with a door on.
“These people had made a special job of sealing it up for the purpose of people like us finding it.
“The shoe is the major thing. That’s to give luck to the family or the next family in the house. I know from previous experience they used to place an old leather shoe in them to keep the evil spirits away.”
Ironically Andy only visited the house to buy a Citroen 2CV from Nigel, who restores classic cars, but they got chatting and Andy was hired to work on the cottage. It is thought the fireplace has had three or even four incarnations in the past 200 years.
Nigel has been poring over the deeds to the house and the earliest reference they can find is 1833, but it could well be older.
He added: “I would not have believed all that stuff was behind there and it’s awesome to think it has been there so long.
“When it’s done, everything we found will be put back on display in the oven.”