Things we found under the floorboards

It's amazing what can slip through the cracks to be lost and forgotten, especially if the house is hundreds of years old. We're uncovered a whole host of unusual items whilst carrying out conservation work, from cryptic 'witch marks' scratched into joists to ward off evil, to mummified rats hidden under the floorboards.

Croome Red Wing interior decay

Croome, Worcestershire 

Croome recently underwent a massive project to replace the plumbing and electrics, rotten floorboards and window frames. The work was carried out in full view of the public, and a weird and wonderful range of objects were found during the conservation work - from leather shoes to cigarette packets.

Dyrham Park house in scaffolding while the roof is replaced

Dyrham Park, South Gloucestershire 

Some curious finds are to be expected when clearing out a 17th-century house ahead of a major conservation project, but the first find at Dyrham was a rather grisly one - a mummified rat underneath the floorboards. Later discoveries included a toy bear, a small wooden dog and child's shoe, and several old chocolate tins.

Winter woodland in snow

Hinton Ampner, Hampshire 

In February 2014 a devastating storm virtually ripped the roof off Hinton Ampner, and hundreds of precious items had to be moved to safety. Many of these items are now on display, including the key to the original Tudor house - a house reportedly so haunted that it was demolished in 1793.

Volunteers doing conservation work at Kingston Lacy

Kingston Lacy, Dorset 

An intriguing door mechanism was recently discovered under the floorboards at Kingston Lacy, which explains how the double doors of the Saloon can be opened exactly together, even when pushing gently on only one door.

A series of witchmarks discovered in a room built to accommodate James I at Knole, a National Trust property in Kent, have been dated to the months immediately following the Gunpowder Plot.

Knole, Kent 

Recent conservation work at Knole led to the discovery of a series of witchmarks under the floorboards in a room built to accommodate King James I. The engravings, believed to ward off evil spirits, were dated using tree ring dating to early 1606, months immediately following the failed Gunpowder Plot.

Beatrix Potter drawing of a fireplace at Melford Hall in Suffolk

Melford Hall, Suffolk 

Beatrix Potter was a regular visitor to Melford Hall, with connections to the family. But a recent discovery of drawings by the artist and writer - never seen before - are to be the basis of an exhibition celebrating Beatrix Potter's links to Melford. The delicate line drawings were hidden inside books and discovered during conservation work.

A group of contractors working on the roof at Mount Stewart

Mount Stewart, County Down 

When the floorboards in the Drawing Room at Mount Stewart were lifted as part of a conservation project, thousands of offcuts of crown glass were discovered. Crown glass was used to glaze the windows in the house when it was extended in the 1940s and was used in the west wing in 1804/05.

A half open door reveals the Little Chamber with a lit fire and thick, opaque light pouring through the widows

Sutton House and Breaker's Yard 

A chance to lift the floorboards is all part of the experience at Hackney's oldest residence. All manner of things have fallen between the gaps since 1535, including a Nave of Diamonds playing card, loyal to his king and queen since 1790.