Treasure From My Garden

A little while ago I posted about a horseshoe we found while digging out the back of our garden in preparation for some building work. It was an odd horseshoe in that it was quite small and light, so I shared it in the hopes someone might be able to shed some light on it.

And quite a few of you responded, thank you πŸ™‚ Interestingly, a couple of people commented that it might not have been a horseshoe, but rather a horseshoe shaped heel tap for a human shoe. Looking into it further, this seemed entirely plausible. Then we did some more digging and found something that made it seem even more probable. This is what we found: IMG_3068 If it’s not immediately obvious, this is a last, or a metal sole shaped stand that shoemakers use when making or repairing shoes. It’s very rusty, but still incredibly heavy, and adds credence to the idea that our little horseshoe was in fact meant for humans, rather than horses.

But that’s not all we found…

IMG_3071We also found this old piece of metal, also very heavy. And, upon researching images of old shoe repair sewing machines, it seems very likely it came from one of those.

IMG_3069Then we discovered this old enamelled candle holder, along with a whole host of old enamelled bowls, saucepans and a kettle, all rusted beyond repair.

IMG_3067Plus this sweet little bottle, along with several other old bottles. A quick Google search reveals it to be a Manon Freres perfume bottle from the 1940’s – my daughter thinks it’s just adorable. There were also the remains, sadly smashed, of several cut glass vases, strewn amongst the soil.

And finally, we found this:

IMG_3066It looks Victorian to me, like something you’d see along the line of a roof. Interestingly, underneath all the earth and the remains of the old air raid shelter, we did find several rows of old red bricks. Our house was built in the 1930’s, and I’d been told that the area where we are was, prior to that, all forest. But the bricks and this find seem to indicate to me that there might have been a workshop or some other sort of building here beforehand, perhaps even the mysterious shoemaker’s shop. We are quite near to the Grand Union Canal and the old paper mills where paper was first industrialised, so it wouldn’t be surprising for there to be other industries around the area to support the workers. Of course, it could just have been an old shed or one hell of an outhouse, but I think it might be worth a search through the old town records to see if I can find out more.

So there you go. Treasure from my garden. It’s probably not worth anything, other than curiosity value, but it’s been wonderful to discover.

49 thoughts on “Treasure From My Garden

  1. This is fascinating! Amazing that you can find something just waiting in the soil under our feet; hidden histories of the world. It’s almost like time traveling, but with the puzzle of piecing the bits together for yourself. Very cool.

    • Thanks, Shaun – that’s a great way of describing it. It is a bit like time travel, trying to imagine what was there before. I think it’s really fascinating too – whenever I go to museums, it’s always the everyday items that interest me, I love thinking of the people who owned them, the stories of their lives πŸ™‚

  2. Amazing! A real life ‘Elves and the Shoemaker’ story. We’re renovating our garden at the moment and all we seems to find id builders rubble probably from where they built the house in the 80s and had the habit of throwing it in to make the garden. I know for sure our house was built on the site of a builders yard that also served as a funeral directors so I’m quite glad that’s all we’ve found! Good luck with the gardening πŸ™‚

    • Goodness, yes, thank goodness that is all you’ve found! πŸ™‚ Good luck with your renovations too – it’s a messy hassle until it’s finished, isn’t it?
      And I’m really amazed at the things we’ve found, I had expected rubble as well, to be honest, so all this treasure has been a real bonus.

      • Especially with wee ones. Mine’s almost two and wants to be out in the garden all the time which is tricky if there’s a large hole. We’re inbetween stages at the mo so she’s safe for now πŸ™‚

      • Oh yes, that’s always a worry when renovating. Mine is nine, so she’s pretty good now, but she’s getting annoyed she can’t go out and do gymnastics on the lawn at the moment. Still, she thinks all the treasure we’ve found is really exciting πŸ™‚

  3. I think its incredibly exciting! I wonder about the lives of the people who lived there long before you. They are reaching out to you from the past. Gosh, Helen, you could write a wicked story out of this!

    • Thanks, Ali – it is pretty cool, isn’t it? Now I want to know more about what might have been here before our house was built. I can sense a trip to the local library, at least… I love this sort of thing, finding out stories from the past. Will definitely update if I find out anything else πŸ™‚

  4. I hope you carry on with the digging and I hope you find out some information on what once stood on the grounds, Helen. Just imagine what stories the people who once held these items could tell. And I wonder why they all ended up in your garden and what the story behind the owner is? Wonderful stuff. Wish I had been there with you when digging up this history.

  5. This is so cool. I’ve not stumbled upon any treasures, but my brother found a Calusa Indian arrowhead when the drainfield for our septic tank was being built in the early 80’s. It was crazy because they were known to live around waterways and we lived 30 miles inland. It showed that at one point the area was covered in water.

    • That’s really cool! I love things like that which reveal hidden truths about a place. I’m finding now that where my house is was once a farm, so am wondering if what we found is the remains of an outbuilding.

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