Friday, 21 March 2014

A Painting of Rose

Painting of Rose Burns, the lady's maid
The painting that Alfred created during the picnic with Rose, shortly before she disappeared, has been uncovered. The image was found at the back of the chest, under old blankets and soviets. We believe that this is the picture that Alfred mentions, due to the woman having blonde hair, blue eyes and a white dress. The tree in the background also shows that it was crafted in an outdoor setting. Interestingly, this is the only image we have found that is painted with colour and constructed in a similar technique to Alfred’s own self-portrait. We believe that this demonstrates the psychological connection that Alfred shared with Rose, and the deep feelings he had for her.

Picnic Site

The map and photograph below show the location where we believe Alfred and Rose shared their picnic. We came to this conclusion by analysing the painting of Rose, and correlating that with popular viewpoints of Yeovil. We then narrowed this down further by looking at the smallest distance from the estate. Wyndham Hill was the final agreed upon location, which is still a popular picnic area for locals and tourists. If you happen to be in the area, why not go there yourself and share a picnic with your loved one, as Alfred and Rose did so many years ago.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Goodbye Note

This scrap of paper was found, creased and folded, in the diary. We believe it is the note that Rose Burns left for Alfred Hobbs the night she disappeared. To gain more information on the document, we contacted a graphologist who told us that the handwriting is masculine in nature, and that it was extremely difficult to believe that a woman (especially from this time period) would have written it. They also stated that the person who penned this note, was not of a sane mind and was most likely psychotic. Do you believe that Rose really did leave this note for Alfred? Let us know your theories in the comments section.

Monday, 17 March 2014


Alfred’s previous entry mentioned two classical songs that seemed important when he discussed his emotional state. Below are the aforementioned tracks, taken from Ivan Davis’ album, The Wind Demon. Please have a listen and cast your mind into the past, imagining Jack the gardener playing the piano whilst Rose and Alfred sat together in the servant’s hall.

Dream Land, Op. 59

Composed by George Frederick Bristow, this light and fantastical first track embodies the joy that was felt during the morning when Alfred caught sight of Rose, the woman he had fallen in love with. Ironically, it was released in the romantic period of the 19th century (1820 - 1869), which could of been the reason behind Jack playing it in the servant's hall. Perhaps he knew about the bond between Alfred and Rose and played it just for them.
The Wind Demon, Op. 11

This second track, composed by Charles Jerome Hopkins, encompasses the pain that was felt when Alfred found the goodbye note from Rose. Listening to the deep, melancholy tune, you can almost feel the pain and suffering of a heart breaking in two. The song itself was also released during the romantic period, and shows the contrasting elements of what love can be.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

A Disappearing Rose

We have now transcribed the second entry from Alfred’s diary.

The text is available to read below and as always, please use the comments section if you wish to discuss your thoughts on the diary. We are especially interested in hearing your opinions on Alfred’s relationship with the lady’s maid, Rose. Keep checking the blog and the Facebook page for updates, as we now begin to restore the third diary entry.


15 August 1890

I awoke last night to the sound of horses.

It startled me as I slumbered and was quite frankly aggravating, as I was fairly tired from working in this understaffed estate. As I peered through the window, I saw the lady and an unknown coachman; obviously it was not Peter, our resident coachman. I also thought I may had saw a third figure, but the darkness hindered my vision and I could not tell for certain. 
Despite the noisy occurrence during the night, the servant’s hall was filled with a certain glee that was quite refreshing. Jack, the gardener of the estate, was at the piano playing Dream Land Op. 59 by the wonderful American composer George Frederick Bristow, which filled the air with a joyfulness that was only raised further once I had caught sight of my Rose. Over these last few days we have become more acquainted, and I do believe my affection for her has grown considerable over this time. Unfortunately, as I am the butler of Barwick Park, it was my duty to stop the music and ensure that everyone was back on track and achieving their daily tasks. I did, however, manage to have a quick word with Rose, which resulted in us agreeing to meet at the hilltop overlooking Yeovil for a small picnic and a spot of painting, whilst the lady visited her relatives at Newton Surmaville.
Even my morning duties seemed to have a positive outcome, as while I was serving breakfast and waiting upon the lady, I attempted to engage her with a conversation regarding the current staff predicament. This often does not go very well, yet, the lady seemed strikingly cheery today and assured me that she would look into the matter later in the week. It was pleasant to see her in such a positive mood and to see a smile, on a far too often saddened face. Seeing this positivity, I made another attempt and asked the lady about the events of the night. She did not take kindly to this question, glaring at me through eyes that swelled with both anger and panic. Instead of answering my query, she stood and began to exit the room, but before she did so, she stopped next to me and told me that the top floor is out of bounds. Before I could reply, she was gone.
My breakfast duties were unsettling to say the least. So I was quite relieved when the lady left for Newton Surmaville, and I could make my way to Rose who was waiting at the hilltop. Upon arriving, I could see that she had changed into a simple, yet elegant white dress. She stood, overlooking the small town below, the wind blowing the dress in such a way that one could swear she had wings and the glaring sun was her halo – indeed an angel, waiting just for me.
We spent a few hours on that hilltop. Me painting her appearance - a fair complexion contrasting the deepness of those blue eyes, and the light streaming through golden hair, like the pure white sand on a tropical beach. Whilst she read The Trumpet-Major by Thomas Hardy, mentioning at numerous moments that she would very much like to take a train to Weymouth at some point in the future.

I promised her I would do so.

Once we had finished our activities, and our picnic that was simple but appeasing, we began to walk back to the estate. Before we reached the house, Rose grabbed me by the arm and drew her face close to mine. Unfortunately, this was only to whisper in my ear. She told me that she had seen something peculiar last night and would tell me more about it later tonight, as the lady had returned to the house and would be needing her assistance. Before she left, her hand touched mine, leaving behind a small pocket watch bearing a Landseer design. When the small hand reached the eight, I would find her in the servant’s hall, she said as she walked away. Her smile was the final parting gift.
I was ecstatic that a woman I held with such high esteem had given a gift to me. Whilst serving tea to the lady, my hand would constantly slip into my pocket just to caress the deer that adorned the cover, only stopping when the lady’s eyes lifted from the table. Her graceful smile from the beginning of the day, was gone, all I could notice now were watery eyes and a vacant expression.
As I walked to the servant’s hall, I tried to dislodge the memory of the lady’s pained appearance, and instead thought about the meeting that was about to occur with Rose. I was both curious as to what she had to say, and eager to thank her properly for the gift she bestowed upon me.
When I arrived at our meeting location, Rose was not there. Instead a note was left on the centre table that simply read:

As I stood motionless, the sound of the piano reached my ears as Jack played The Wind Demon Op. 11 by Charles Jerome Hopkins. It echoed through the corridors and through my heart - a heart that now beats an empty tune.


Friday, 14 March 2014

Second Diary Entry

Here is the second diary entry, in its original form. We have been working on restoring this document since last week, and are pleased to announce that the transcription will be viewable tomorrow morning. You may notice that this entry occurs five days later than the last entry that was submitted to the blog. The reason for this is due to the overall damage of the diary, resulting in some pages being unrecoverable. However, the events seem linked between the two entries and shouldn't cause too much confusion.

Remember to check the blog tomorrow to learn what happens next in the life of Alfred Hobbs.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Landseer Pocket Watch

The latest artefact we have unearthed, is a Landseer pocket watch that can be viewed in the video below. Its name is linked to Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, a notable English painter and sculptor who famously created the four bronze lions that surround Nelson's column in Trafalgar Square, London. How Alfred attained such a watch, and why it was kept in such pristine condition is still a mystery to us. If you have any theories, let us know in the comments section.

Video Examination of the Pocket Watch

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Old Man Hobbs

This sketch was found tucked away at the bottom of the chest. We thought it would be appropriate to post the image now, as it appears to be Alfred's father. Although we do not know his name, or much else about him, we can determine that he meant a great deal to Alfred, from both the diary entry that was posted last week and the words that are written beside the drawing, that reads 'Never Forget'.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Alfred's Walk

The drawings below were found tucked away in the diary, on the same page as the entry posted a few days ago. After cleaning them up and analysing the subject matter in each one, we have determined that these sketches were made during Alfred's walk from Newton Surmaville to Barwick Park. This conclusion was made after we realised that the picture showing the mansion, was of course Newton Surmaville, drawn from the end of the driveway. The field with the fence we believe was drawn on Two Towers Lane, looking across the fields in front of Barwick Park. And the image of the rabbit must have simply caught Alfred's eye as he was travelling.

Map of Alfred's Walk

Here is a map of the route we believe Alfred may have taken to walk from Newton Surmaville to Barwick Park. If you live in the area or are visiting Yeovil soon, why not walk it yourself and imagine what may have been going through Alfred's head as he went to take over his father's position.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Transition

Here is the transcript of Alfred's first diary entry.
 Do you have any thoughts on Alfred or what may happen next in his life? If you do, or if you'd like to discuss the document with other readers, please use the comments section to express your views. In the meantime, we will be working on the second diary entry and our progress will be trackable using the Facebook page.


10 August 1890

‘Loyalty is a butler’s best tool’, my father once said.

These words have helped me greatly when serving as the butler of Newton Surmaville. A truly breathtaking estate, especially for a man who can appreciate the finer things in life. It houses paintings by artists such as Edward Armitage and Paul C├ęzanne, and features a library filled with first editions from esteemed authors like Thomas Carlyle and Henry James. So as you can imagine, I am going to miss the house greatly, for I have been requested to serve the Wolfthorn family at Barwick Park, which is just a short walk away. The reason for this transition is because of the recent departure of my dear father who passed away earlier this week. A fine butler himself, I owe much to his teachings and guidance. Unfortunately, we never spent much time together during his later years, due to our professions, but we still spoke through letters whenever possible.

I shall miss him dearly.

Upon arriving at the estate, I spoke to Lady Margaret Wolfthorn, a widowed woman who lives alone, which is a little unorthodox but it is not my place to pass judgement. She seems to be a stern woman, who treasured the service of my late father. Apparently, it was a personal request that I take his position, which was rather touching I must say. As I left to attend to my father’s belongings, she gave a slight smile, yet in her eyes I could sense a type of sorrow one feels when they have lost a loved one. A look I know all too well.

My father did not have many belongings when he passed on. A simple man in many regards, but one who was greatly respected wherever he went. I sorted through his documents and personal effects, a task that was quite difficult I must admit. Whilst organising these items, my eye caught hold of a small box on a shelf above the desk. Quite captivating to look at, it was decorated with carvings that were exotic in nature, yet was seemingly impossible to open. I cannot recall my father having such an item when I last saw him, so as you can imagine I was extremely keen to have a peek inside. Yet, I could not work out how to open it, for there was no latch or lock of any kind, a truly baffling contraption.

I decided to put the box aside for the time being, and as I did so, I saw a figure standing in the doorway. A woman with golden blonde hair and eyes that were reminiscent of Van Gough’s Starry Night - vibrant and enchanting. She smiled and told me that the lady herself gave the box to my father as a present for his unrelenting service to the Wolfthorn family. She also told me how to open it. Her name was Rose Burns, and she was the lady's maid. I thanked her for her assistance in the matter and watched as she gracefully exited the room and walked down the stairs, like a pure white swan submerging into a still lake.

When I was alone again with the box, I decided to have another attempt. Rose told me that the key was to slide the midsection to the right, and that would unlatch the lid. This seemed to do the trick, and I was pleasantly surprised with what I found within. It was a small silver ring, the ring my father gave to my mother on their wedding day. Simple and refined, much like himself, the ring is not worth much money, nevertheless my father believed it was priceless, as it was the only tie he had with mother after her passing. Seeing the ring again reminded me of their affections for each other, and gave me solace to think that they are now reunited once more.

With my father’s belongings sorted and my own possessions moved in, I began to look through the house logs to see how the house was being kept and the amount of staff we have employed. I was rather shocked to discover that aside from myself, the only staff working for the Wolfthorn family were: 3 housemaids, a cook, a scullery maid, Rose (the lady's maid), 2 gardeners, a groom and a coachman. Seriously understaffed for a house of this size. With there being no footman, it would seem that I would have to perform these duties, and discuss the issue with the lady herself. It is fortunate that her brother, who owns the illustrious Newton Surmaville, an estate that I fully regret leaving, supports her.

Having so many duties must have been a heavy burden on my father and I can now see why he was struck with ill health. I think of him now as I prepare to secure the house and check on the fires. His words of loyalty lingering on my mind, alongside the porcelain face of Rose, the lady's maid

First Diary Entry

Below is the original document that was restored this week. It's from Alfred's diary (the earlier entries were too damaged for a successful restoration to take place) and although it cannot be read very clearly in its current state, we will be posting the transcript of what is written later today. So, keep your eyes peeled for any updates on the blog.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

The Lock Box and Ring

We have just restored this small wooden box, which features carvings similar to that found on the large chest. This leads us to believe that the two are linked, probably through the craftsman who created the two objects. However, unlike the chest found at the lake site, this smaller box utilises a rudimentary lock mechanism, causing us to think that it may have used as some sort of safe. Yet, when it was opened only a silver ring was found. We were hoping to find some sort of documentation that could shed light on the overall mystery, but generally we’re still pleased to have discovered something that Alfred obviously held dear. Why the ring was kept in this kind of container is still unknown to us.

What are your theories? Use the comments section below, to tell us.

Video Examination of the Box

Friday, 21 February 2014

The Lake Site

Many of you may be interested to see where the mysterious, wooden box was originally located. If you look below, you'll see a map that shows the small lake that's situated in Barwick Park (this can be difficult to see from a satellite perspective due to the dense woods that surround it), our box, which can be seen in the previous post, was discovered during a maintenance visit, in the section where the stream meets the body of the lake.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

The Discovered Chest

The above chest was found in the small, wooded lake next to the Barwick Park house. This discovery led to the creation of this blog, which will document the items we uncover and restore as we delve deeper into the secrets hidden within this majestic box.