The Mystery Of The Medals and Bust Left Outside A Shaftesbury Hotel

Staff at Shaftesbury’s Grosvenor Arms Hotel are trying to reunite a wooden chest, filled with family heirlooms, with its rightful owner.

Over the last two days, unusual items have been left outside the town centre business. Now staff are looking for clues. Keri Jones from ThisIsAlfred headed down to the hotel cellar where these unexpected deliveries are being kept safe.

Abi Hoskins led me down to the stone walled cellar, deep in the vaults beneath Shaftesbury’s Grosvenor Arms Hotel. As she unlocked the door in the metal-fenced enclosure that secures the wine and spirits, I could see the mysterious package on the floor.

Abi Hockings with the mystery items

A white plaster bust – a head and shoulders piece – was the first item abandoned outside the hotel. Even though it’s clearly a sculpture, discovering it was quite unnerving. “It was delivered to us on Monday morning or the late hours of Sunday evening,” said Abi.

More followed. “Yesterday we had this chest arrive. The police have told us to keep it under lock and key until they come and pick it up. Until then, it’s got to stay with us in the wine cellar,” she added.

Abi says the unusual items came as part of two consignments. “Two separate deliveries. We have no idea where it’s coming from. No note. No, nothing. It was just left outside of our front door.”

I opened the wooden chest. It had divided compartments like an old writing bureau. Inside were wartime medals, jewellery and sepia portraits of people wearing Victorian dress contained in a brooch.

An envelope was packed with cuttings and a narrow strip of paper. What looked like a telegram message was typed on it. It was a report of an incident, possibly from during the war, off the Dutch coast. It stated that ‘Off Texel Island last night, three stationary armed trawlers were attacked through flak by a Wellington piloted by Flight Lieutenant JW Stancomb, aged 33 of the Woodlands, Trowbridge. They saw their bombs cause a brilliant white flash which was followed by a fire.’

A number of yellowed newspaper clippings refer to the same Flight Lieutenant receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Abi says the staff are baffled. “We just don’t know what’s going to come next. We just thinking something’s going to arrive every day. Something hasn’t come today, but who knows what tomorrow brings?” said Abi.

Hotel Manager Kirsty Schmidt believes the items will be of sentimental importance to someone. She hopes the owner can be found. Until then, the medals, newspaper cuttings and jewellery will be kept under lock and key, on the advice of the police.