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1897: Historic find dug up in Balcombe- a medieval hoard!

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 25 May 1897



And extremely interesting, and what promises to be a most valuable, antiquarian discovery was made at Balcombe yesterday (Monday), when more than 700 coins were found buried in a pot.

It appears that Mr Pierce, builder etc, is building a house for Dr Newton off the main road in the village about halfway between his own yard and Mr Newington's stores, and on Monday his men, whilst engaged in levelling a tennis ground, came upon a hard substance about 7 inches beneath the surface. One of the men pulled at it, thinking it was a root, but it was discovered to be a vessel, shaped like a coffee pot made of brass or gun metal, and with two legs to it, and some sheepskin covering the hole where the third leg had been. The top was covered over with a small piece of copper and a piece of canvas. The pot was found to contain a very large quantity of silver coins, some of which were very small, and some gold coins. The approximate number of the former was afterwards estimated to be over 700, and the gold coins to be 12. The spot where they were found was within 50 feet of the main road.

The labourers, whose names with James Jenkins and Henry Bourne, of Staplefield, and James Rice, of Handcross, immediately took the find to Mr Pierce's house. The news of the discovery soon spread through the village, and caused quite a sensation amongst the inhabitants.

Mr Pierce was in Brighton at the time, but he heard of the discovery shortly before 4 o'clock, and he took the train to Balcombe, arriving there at 4:16.

There were many callers at his house during the evening, all anxious to inspect the coins. The Rector (the Reverend R. G. Mead) and Dr Newington called in the course of the afternoon, Dr Newton is not an experienced numismatologist, but he pronounced the coins to date back to about the time of Edward IV, rather more than 400 years ago.

When washed, the coins were found to be in a very good state of preservation. The twelve gold coins are about the size of half a crown, but thinner, and they had a representation of a ship on one side with an inscription round, and Fleur de Lys and crowns on the other. The silver coins are much smaller, ranging from the size of a threepenny bit to a shilling, and on the larger size one is a head, believed to be Edward IV.

A representative of this paper called on Mr Pearce last night with regard to the coins. A shade of care passed over Mr Pierce’s face when he mentioned the object of his visit, for he said that our representative had been the 1000th visitor who visited his house during the day, and he had promised not to show the coins to any more persons. However, the promise was not of such a binding nature that he could not forego it, and the coins were inspected by our representative, who saw they were mostly in good preservation, especially the gold. All the silver coins are the same in design, both large and small, and the name "Edward" can be read on them. On one side is a large cross with three little balls in each corner, and on the other side is a head. As yet no date could be traced. There were 750 coins altogether. The pot was produced and it was 10 inches in height and 11 inches in girth, and it had a spout, which gave it very much the appearance of a coffee pot. Several of the villagers who were standing near now came round, eager to gaze on the coins.

One does not have a chance every day of taking in one's palm gold coin of the size of half a crown, and several of those around wished to take hold "just to say we handled it," and admiring comments were made on the coins. It became evident that this embarras de richesses was likely to prove a burden to Mr Pierce, and well it might. Mr Pierce afterwards courteously showed a representative where the pot was found.

He gave it as his opinion that the ground had not risen, but had rather lowered.

In the evening P. C. Squires went to Haywards Heath to give information of the find to headquarters, and superintendent Smith visited Balcombe this morning respecting the future disposal of the coins. There is now an opportunity for that centre of light and leading in the village, the Balcombe Association to furnish an interesting account of these coins.



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