The Cotswold Outdoor in Brighton, England, is a clothing store for outdoor sports. During the last renovation work, interior decorator Russ Davis has dismantled layers and layers of rotten carpet, tiles and flooring, and during the removal of the floorboards he made an absolutely unexpected discovery: a series of 1 and 5 pound decaying banknotes dating back to the period of the Second World War.
There were about 30 bundles, each worth about £1,000, and banknotes, all stuck together, amount to around 130,000 pounds, equivalent (at current exchange rate) to 2 million dollars today. The cerulean color of the banknotes indicates that were issued by Bank of England during the Second World War, in fact blue was the colour of the emergency wartime currency first issued in 1940.
The owners of the store have handed the money to the Sussex police, hoping to understand something from this affair. One of Davis’s hypotheses was that the money was the result of some robbery or illicit activity, or been stashed during the war by someone who died, but the version of the shopkeepers is a possibility that could lead to a more plausible solution. From 1936 to 1973, before the Cotsworld Outdoor occupied the building, the location was a Bradleys Gowns shop, which dealt with the sale of furs and luxury goods to people like Winston and Clementine Churchill, or even the Royal British family. Howard Bradley, the last heir to the prestigious merchant family, says that someone might have hidden money during the war, in a sort of security deposit in difficult times. Bradley told other details useful to CNN:
“We are able to reconstruct the genealogy of our family until 1300, and among our ancestors there were certainly people of Jewish origin. With what was happening in the 1930s in Germany (and other parts of Europe) it is obvious that the Bradleys were worried. ” Perhaps his father Eric or Uncle Victor, who had both fought in the war, felt the need to create a fund for the eventuality of an escape from the Nazis.
Although these are only hypotheses, the way of the Bradley family turns out to be the easiest and most obvious one. The British police are still conducting investigations, and even if the current owners will never collect the money of their discovery, they will have a very interesting story to tell their customers.