Posted 20 November 2014 by Andrew Gardner
A Sussex woman who found some long-lost jewels that once belonged to Agatha Christie was stunned when they raised nearly £50,000 at auction last month.
Jennifer Grant, from Nutley - a picturesque village on the edge of the Ashdown Forest - had bought an old trunk for £100 at a sale of the contents of Christie's former home a few years ago. The trunk contained a strongbox which she'd never been able to open, but the rattling of its contents had always intrigued her. Finally she couldn't take the suspense any longer and got it opened with a crowbar - only to find inside a purse of gold coins plus a diamond brooch and a diamond ring.
As an avid Christie fan she'd read descriptions of some long-lost family heirlooms and realised exactly what she had. And the surprise was compounded when the jewels went way beyond their reserves to make an astounding amount of money - which the auction house pointed out was due not just to the jewellery's actual worth and quality, but also to its provenance and the wonderful story of how it was found.
While this really was a chance find, it seems Sussex people are no strangers to treasure hunting. Some years ago a Sussex man claimed he'd found the loot buried by notorious pirate Captain Kidd - then lost it. He claimed to have found the massive haul on his own on a remote island off Vietnam and re-buried most of it for safety, but was then arrested by the local authorities and died before he could tell anyone where it was. Who knows if it was true, but you have to admire his spirit.
Meanwhile, Roman and bronze age hoards really have been unearthed from this county's soil and museums such as Barbican House in Lewes and Fishbourne Roman Villa are great places to see some of the evidence. And if you're looking for some undercover days out for your winter break in Sussex, both are open pretty much year round. Click here to view our selection of Sussex cottages.