Mysterious letter baffles experts

Cllr Caitlin Bisknell with letter found from 150 years ago under the flloor where sha stands during restoration work at Buxton pavilion gardens.
Cllr Caitlin Bisknell with letter found from 150 years ago under the flloor where sha stands during restoration work at Buxton pavilion gardens.

A strange discovery has got tongues wagging at Buxton’s Pavilion Gardens after a letter dated 1850 was uncovered from beneath the floor.

A contractor working on the old kitchen in the Octagon made the discovery last week and immediately handed it to the Pavilion Garden’s managers.

Terry Crawford, visitor services manager for High Peak Borough Council, which runs the Buxton attraction, said: “It is a rather peculiar letter.

“It’s dated 1850 and we’re not quite sure of the language at the moment.”

“We’ve sent it over to the Buxton Museum and they are pursuing lines of investigation just to try and understand it’s origin.”

He said that if the letter really had been beneath the floor of the Octagon for 163 years it was in a remarkably good condition.

“The strange thing is that the Pavilion Gardens didn’t open until 1871 and the Octagon hall came later,” Terry explained.

“The handwriting is very peculiar. It’s difficult to translate.”

The Pavilion Gardens were designed by Sir Joseph Paxton and opened following the tourism boom in Buxton as a result of the arrival of the railway line in 1863. The Octagon, formerly known as the concert hall, was designed by Buxton architect Robert Rippon Duke and opened in 1875.

Experts studying the letter believe the unusual handwriting may go some of the way to explaining why the language it is written in is so difficult to determine.

“Someone’s gone to a lot of trouble if it is a hoax,” Terry said.