Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Historic Find Under Floor of Family Home

A couple have discovered they are sitting on a piece of history after uncovering a 33ft-deep medieval well under their sofa.
But although Colin Steer, 61, is fascinated by the historic find, his wife Vanessa certainly isn’t and even made her husband wait more than two decades after it was first discovered to begin exploring it.
The couple moved into their Victorian home in Plymouth, Devon around 24 years ago, when they first noticed a slight indentation in the living room floor.
Enthusiastic Colin Steer and his less-than-impressed wife Vanessa from Plymouth, Devon, who have uncovered an old well in the sitting room of their Victorian home
Mr Steer, a former civil servant, said: ‘I was replacing the joists in the floor when I noticed a slight depression - it appeared to be filled in with the foundations of the house.
‘I dug down about one foot and saw that it was a well but my wife just wanted to me to cover it back up because we had three children running around at the time.
‘I always wanted to dig it out to see if I could find a pot of gold at the bottom so when I retired at the end of last year that’s what I did.’
With a helping hand from a local man Mr Steer spent three days clearing the well, which is around 30 inches wide using a bucket on a rope to pull up the debris.
Plans of the site show that the well dates back to at least the 16th century, just after the end of the medieval period.
And just five feet into the dig he made another discovery - an old sword.
Since clearing the well, Mr Steer has installed lighting and built a trap-door over it
He said: ‘It was hidden at a 45 degree angle and sort of just fell out.
‘It looks like an old peasant’s fighting weapon because it appears to be made up of bits of metal all knocked together.’
Having stopped digging at around 17ft Mr Steer believes the well is at least 33ft deep.
He has since put lighting in the well, tidied it up and built a trap-door into the living room floor for easy access.
Mr Steer said: ‘I’ve been doing lots of research into its history but I’d like to try and find someone to date it.
The couple moved into their Victorian home in Plymouth 24 years ago, when they first spotted the well
‘I’ve looked at old maps which showed Drake’s leat and illustrated the area was just woodland until this house was built in 1895.
‘I love the well and think it’s fascinating. I’d love to find out who was here before us.
‘I’ve got a piece of Plymouth’s history in my front room.’
But Mr Steer’s wife Vanessa, a former housewife, doesn’t share her husband’s enthusiasm.
She said: “I hate the well. But I suppose it is quite a feature.
‘When we come to sell the house I just hope it’s not a white elephant in the room.’

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