" I'm one of the lucky few who gets to explore the nooks and crannies of the fascinating historical buildings you help us care for. I've crawled behind walls and explored mysterious roof spaces at sites up and down the country. What's so exciting about this series is that it allows us to bring you along too. "
The places in our care are full of unusual and surprising and items. From novelty sundials to a bronze coffin bell, here are some objects that will make you look twice.
This miniature stone egg at Polesden Lacey, Surrey, is the work of Carl Fabergé, the Russian jeweller famed for the series of elaborate Imperial Easter eggs he created for the Russian royal family.
The collection at Borrowdale, Cumbria, includes this marble sundial. By adding a small amount of gun powder, the cannon could be made to emit a small pop when the sun’s rays fell on it through the magnifying glass.
A mug with a surprise
If you drank tea from this 19th-century mug at Attingham Park, Shropshire, you’d be in for a bit of a surprise. An earthenware frog lurks at the bottom.
Bishop William Morgan translated the Bible into Welsh for the first time in 1588. Only 24 original copies remain, including this one at Tŷ Mawr Wybrnant. A new hydro-electric turbine there is helping protect it from damp.
If you suffer from taphophobia, this may be the object for you. It is a bronze coffin bell, part of our collection at Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk. A string running from the clapper would have gone into the coffin and been wrapped around a finger of the body. If the 'corpse' awoke inside the coffin, they could pull the string to ring the bell and attract attention.
The 19th-century 'Cadogan' teapot at East Riddlesden Hall, West Yorkshire, can only be filled by turning it upside down and using a tube in the bottom. The unusual design was to prevent liquid escaping from the top when it was poured.