PREPOSTEROUS PRESENTS

Whilst renovating the residential accommodation above the shop and comparing the ceiling level of the rear of the shop with the level of the roof over this back addition it became apparent that there must be a concealed loft space over the rear of the shop. There was no visible means of access but on removing a large old mirror and several wall coverings from the wall of an adjacent bathroom which was on a half landing I discovered a small access door which had been screwed shut to make access very difficult.

On gaining access I found a space with just under one metre headroom and I noticed that one of the floorboards stopped short of the rear wall. I decided to investigate and at arms length under the floorboards I found a package carefully wrapped in many layers of very dirty paper. Inside the package was an envelope addressed to Mr. C. W. Horton at 262, Upper Street, Islington N posted in Upper Holloway N on 2nd September 1886 and a paper bag stamped Established 1856. J. Thompson, Bread and Biscuit Baker 102, Upper Street, Islington N.

The envelope contained a letter from Middlesex Lunatic Asylum, Hanwell, five cash receipts from the Parish of St. Mary, Islington, a Pocket Almanac, Diary and Remembrancer for 1886. The letter was to tell Mr. Horton that his wife Mary had been detained at the Asylum and a small card listed visiting times and on the back was a list of the following rules:

‘VISITORS to patients are forbidden to give MONEY to patients or Attendants. Meat, Tea, Sugar, Wine, Spirits, Beer, or other stimulants, Stationery, Trinkets, Wearing Apparel, &c are also strictly forbidden to be brought to the Asylum and given to the Patients by the Visitors. Knives, scissors, or other Cutting Instruments, Crochet and Knitting Needles, are NOT to be given by Visitors to the Patients, neither must Letters from Patients to be posted be taken from the Asylum by Visitors for that purpose. In the event of any Infringement of the above Regulations the persons so offending will not again be permitted to visit the Asylum.’

The J.Thompson paper bag contained a cut throat razor .The story has now been fully researched and will be continued in Part 2.

To be continued.

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