Ιf you’ve ever owned one, you know how it goes. You know about nasty horse hair plaster in the walls, old garbage buried in the dirt floor cellar. You’ve found coins in your attic and old newspapers in the back of that built-in cabinet.
But can you top these old house finds?
1. Dead chickens stuffed in the walls
Interestingly, the poultry remains were found with spices and wrapped in old newspapers dated from the 1930s and 40s.
A local historian has suggested that the dead chickens and spices were part of some “pow-wowing or Dutch magic” which was used to heal ailments and ward off evil spirits.
Indeed, rural Pennsylvania before the Second World War was a hotbed of the Pennsylvania Dutch who had a curious mix of religious beliefs that included faith healings and folk magic. I did a post about a haunted house called Hex Hollow that was involved in some strange Pennsylvania Dutch murder hex incident.
But back to the chickens in the walls. The Bretzius family discovered that removing chicken carcasses from walls was not covered under their home owner’s insurance policy. Cleaning out the chickens and replacing them with real insulation cost the family about $20,000 and took several years to complete.
2. A Van Gogh original in the attic:
3. A Medieval well in the living room:
Some local research revealed that the well was part of a “watercourse” built in the 16th century.
Mr. Steer discovered a very old sword in the well that is thought to be from medieval times. He has installed lighting to illuminate the well and put a glass trap door over top.
While Mr. Steer is quite proud of his find, his wife is not so impressed.
“I hate the well,” says Mrs. Steer, “But I suppose it is quite a feature. When we come to sell the house I just hope it’s not a white elephant in the room.”
4. Hitler’s secret record collection
It seems that the Fuhrer Hitler was a bit of a hypocrite. Though he forbade certain types of music to be played by the people he ruled – especially music by Jewish composers – he actually kept a secret stash of outlawed records for his own personal enjoyment.
This was discovered in Russia in 1991 when Alexandra Besymenskaja, was sent to her father’s attic to retrieve a badminton racquet. What she found instead was Adolf Hitler’s personal record collection.
You see, her father, Lew Besymenski, was a former captain of the Russian military intelligence unit during the Second World War. In 1945, shortly after the fall of Nazi Germany, he went with his unit and looted to the Reich Chancellery in Berlin – the headquarters of the Nazi party.
Lew managed to grab some boxes of Adolf Hitler’s personal belongings that he kept as souvenirs.
The stack of records in his attic had been labeled with the word, Führerhauptquartier – German for Reich Chancellery.
Some of the composers found among the records in Hitler’s personal collection were Peter Tchaikovsky, Alexander Borodin and Sergei Rachmaninoff. All of these were labeled as “degenerate” and “subhuman” by the Nazis.
5. How about the 400 year old head of a king?
This is such an odd story – but 100% true.
After the death of notorious French tax collector Jacques Bellanger, a journalist with a television production company went snooping around in his attic based on rumors of the odd things that Bellanger had collected over the years. The journalist made the find of a lifetime: he pulled out the 400-year head of King Henry IV who had been dead since 1610.
Portrait of King Henry IV (left); and his 400 year old skull (right):
Apparently, Bellanger had somehow managed to steal or otherwise acquire the king’s mummified head and had hoarded it in his attic for decades.
As crazy as that sounds, scientists were able to verify that the skull did in fact belong to King Henry IV “based on a dark lesion above the right nostril, and a healed bone fracture above the jaw that matched a stab wound he received during an assassination attempt in 1594.”
Oddly – and what part of this story isn’t odd – the king’s head was found wrapped in a breakfast croissant.
Moral of the story?
There isn’t one really. Except that you may or may not want to scratch below the surface of any old house you are wanting to purchase. Who knows what exciting, or expensive, or disgusting relic you might find!