A remarkable discovery was made early in the last century at the Elizabethan manor house of Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, only a portion of which remains incorporated in a modern structure. Upon removing some of the wallpaper of a passage on the second floor, the entrance to a room hitherto unknown was laid bare. It was a small apartment about eight feet square, and presented the appearance as if some occupant had just quitted it. A chair and a table within, each bore evidence of the last inmate. Over the back of the former hung a priest’s black cassock, carelessly flung there a century or more ago, while on the table stood an antique tea-pot, cup, and silver spoon, the very tea leaves crumbled to dust with age. On the same storey were two rooms known as ‘the chapel’ and the ‘priest’s room,’ the names of which signify the former use of the concealed apartment.

— Allan Fea, Secret Chambers and Hiding-Places, 1908

The Whitehall Mystery


Scotland Yard is built on the site of an unsolved murder.

The torso of a “well-nourished” 24-year-old woman was found in a cellar vault in October 1888, while the police service’s headquarters was being built in Westminster. Her arm had been discovered earlier on the bank of the Thames, and a reporter later discovered a leg elsewhere on the construction site.

The woman’s uterus was also missing, an unsettling echo of Jack the Ripper’s killings, which were terrorizing London at the same time. The Metropolitan Police said there was no connection.

The woman’s head and other limbs were never found, and her identity — and that of her killer — has never been established.

No Return

The Milanese airship Italia reached the North Pole in 1928, but on the way back to base it encountered worsening weather and crashed to the ice. Ten men were thrown from the cabin; the chief engineer managed to throw them some supplies before he and five others were drawn helplessly away with the drifting envelope.

Nine of the castaways eventually reached civilization, but no trace of the airship or its captives has ever been found.

See also Hope Springs Eternal.

Earthquake Lights

Witnesses reported seeing “immense columns of flame” shortly before the earthquake that destroyed the Greek cities of Helike and Boura in 373 B.C. Numerous accounts since then have told of aurora-like lights accompanying earthquakes.

They were thought to be a myth until photographs were taken during a Japanese quake in the 1960s, and several corroborating videos have appeared since then. But why they occur is still a mystery.