Hidden messages from the past.

There are many messages left in hidden crevices, or in bottles thrown into the sea, and maybe some are still waiting to be discovered. Even in Alresford! First we have a Happy New Year message from January in 1860.

25 Broad Street, with 27 on the right, pictured in 1985. In about 1900 Charles Baker, a Draper, brought both houses together in one large dwelling.

25 Broad Street, with 27 on the right, pictured in 1985. In about 1900 Charles Baker, a Draper, brought both houses together in one large dwelling. (Making “Tottenham House”? See footnote)

Back in 1955, at 25 Broad Street, builders doing some alterations to the house found a message hidden in a bottle, left in a wall cavity. A vintage photocopy of this message was passed to the Alresford Museum recently by George Watson, now living in Makins Court. The message was from earlier builders, who were working on the shutters at the house, and sealed the bottle in, possibly behind those shutters, on 13th January 1860 (according to a note added at the top of the paper) with a message to future generations, wishing them a Happy New Year.

scan484The message seems to be written on a sheet of paper that was a bill, or receipt, that has the following printed heading – possibly relating to the business conducted there in 1860:

Bought of S. Dixon

Successor to James Calvert

Linen & Woollen Draper, Silk Mercer

who offered the following:

Ready Made Clothes, Warehouseman, Undertaker etc

Family Mourning

Tailoring in all its Branches

(M)antles, Bonnets, Silks, Flowers etc

Linens, Moreens, Chintz Furniture, Blankets, Counterpanes etc.

The hand written section then lists the team responsible for the message, and then there follow several separate comments – some not quite understandable! It seems to say:

“6th January 1860.

Mrs Dirford own idea, executed by:

Mrs W. Hunt Jnr Architect

John Fowler Builder

Harvey Bricklayer

Pewsey Plumber Painter”


“Mrs Jas. Calvert Jnr, and John Baker (Tailors)

Thos Field, N.M. Girling, Jas. Hall – assistants doing a flourishing trade”


scan485“Lady Ashburton has just given an order for 1200 yards of fla___ (Flannel?) at one price which we were able to supply from stock. 4000 yards of stuff given away by her Ladyship this Christmas. “She’s a brick! And no mistake””


“Mrs Harding conducts a singing class in the town which we all attend and enjoy.”


“Whosoever can look upon this document and realizing the past without weeping cannot be in a right state of mind. Where we are no one knows, perhaps we see you now, so take care and not desecrate this sacred thing.”


“Can you work like this (John Baker asks) as we have done in 1859 – and wonders whether you are doing as much as we did. Hopes you are living in as great a harmony as we have done during the alteration which was begun in August last year and is not likely to be entirely finished till August next year. Fare well friends we all wish you a happy new year.”

Footnote: An advertisement for H.C.Baker in the 1898 and 1899 Alresford Parish magazine advises that: “H.C.Baker has a lot of Bedsteads, Bedding and Bedroom furniture, besides many handsome pieces of furniture suitable for Reception Rooms, purchased at the sale of the late Canon Poole, West Meon Rectory” – address for viewing quoted as Tottenham House, Alresford.



Another hidden message….. from 19A Broad Street

The Recipe Book “A Taste of Alresford” was published by Sally March in Alresford in 1985, on behalf of Oxfam. One of the recipes was provided by Maggie Roper of Broad Street – it dealt with Braised Partridge and Cabbage. The book records that David and Maggie Roper lived at 19A Broad Street,  reached by a long narrow passageway opening onto the street. Overlooking the street on the first floor are high, airy, well-proportioned rooms, while behind them the original cottage has small low-ceilinged, cosy rooms. In restoring the sitting room in the cottage the Ropers found a message on paper fastened to the old chimney breast.

scan487Reading from picture of the message in the Recipe book, it seems to be dated as “Alresford 1830” and use headed paper “To W.H. Moody”, who from the pictures alongside was a boot and shoe maker. Or was he? The message reads:

“This Chimney Piece was Altered in the month of August by the Above Named Person Who is now no doubt numbered with the dead (He was right so far!) And such Reader will thy Lot be ere long——–Prepare to meet thy God.”

Not a happy, friendly sort of message!

The book also comments that because Broad Street was originally wider than it is now, in the passage way could be seen the cobbled, old road, and the line where the old house bricks began.

One response to this post.

  1. W.H.Moody is quoted on Google in relation to three books listed by Oxley’s about Birket-Foster, dated 1839, having a “binding in green calf by Moody of Alresford”. So maybe Moody was a tanner and general leather worker. Another reference circa 1800 quotes W.H.Moody as being a resident in Broad Street.


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