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World War One treasures discovered in Houghton

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A TREASURE trove of First World War memorabilia has been discovered in the loft of a historic home.

The three-storey house in Houghton had already yielded tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of vintage clothing, after the death of its owner.

Vervia Todd was carried into her home in Church Street as a baby and lived there until shortly before her death last year, aged 92.

Her fiancé was killed during the Second World War and Vervia never married after her loss, living with her dental surgeon father, Sam, until he died.

Now, 100 years after the war began, her father’s wartime memories are on show in the 200-year-old house’s servants’ quarters.

The array of artefacts – called Postcards Home – includes rare German propaganda, war-time copies of newspapers and poignant postcards from the trenches.

Much of the collection had never seen the light of day for well over half a century before they were found.

The doors of the house in Church Street are now open to the public, who have already flocked there for two vintage sales to snap up Vervia’s collection of dresses, hats and shoes, thought to be worth about £100,000.

Best friend Sheila Ellis, one of the executors of Vervia’s will, hopes as many people as possible will see the exhibition, before it is packed away for good at the end of this week.

The house will then be put up for sale and the fate of its contents has not yet been decided.

Keen historian Sheila, 66, of Church Street, discovered the historical Aladdin’s cave in the loft just three weeks ago.

She said: “I think Vervia would be chuffed to bits and thoroughly enjoying it. She’s been painted as a Miss Havisham figure, but nothing could be further from the truth. The house was always full of people and she was very generous.

“We could have put on an exhibition four or five times as big.

“If people want to know what their grandparents and great-grandparents went through in the 20th century, they should have a look in here.

“We had a lot of fun putting the exhibition together and you feel as if you came to know her family, through the letters they wrote.”

The Grade II-listed building is open between 10am and 2pm.

 

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