In Kent, England there is a historic house being restored by a team of archaeologists. During the work, however, they discover an unusual letter hidden under the floorboards. Though this was written 389 years ago, its content is pretty self-evident (Old English notwithstanding): it’s a shopping list.
The house that kept the ticket, compiled in 1633, is none other than the very famous Knole House from the 15th century, one of largest houses in England. The ambitious renovation has a multi-million dollar budget at its disposal.
The list was written by a certain Robert Draper and was addressed toMr Bilby”. The man asked the recipient to get him some pewter spoons, a frying pan and “green fish”, wording that would refer to cod without salt. Draper also asks for a “fire shovel” And “lights”, to be sent to Copt Hall, Essex.
According to National Trust of the UK, Draper was meant to be a high-ranking servant because the list was “beautifully written”. In addition to the aforementioned shopping list, two other notes of similar age to the letter addressed to Mr. Bilby were found.
“It is extremely rare to find out letters dating back to the 17th centurynot to mention those that give us an idea of the management of rich families and the movement of objects from one place to another”, explains Nathalie Cohen, the regional archaeologist of the National Trust. Experts are especially enthusiastic about the excellent quality of the sources, in fact they have not used any particular technique to decipher the content. Here is the original text of the shopping list (a photo below):
“Mr Bilby, I pray pvide to be sent too morrow in ye Cart some Greenfish, The Lights from my Lady Cranfeild Cham 2 dozen of Pewter spoon: one greate fireshovell for ye nursery; and ye ohers which were sent to be exchanged for some of a better fashion, a new frying pan together with a note of ye prizes of such Commodities for ye rest. Your loving friend, Robert Draper, October 1633, Copthall”