A key that opened the doors of an 11th-century tower has been returned almost 50 years after it disappeared.
The large brass key for St Leonard’s Tower, which is managed by English Heritage, was returned in the post with a note saying it had been “borrowed” in 1973 and apologising for the delay.
It said simply: “Borrowed 1973. Returned 2020. Sorry for the delay.”
While the locks at the tower have long since been changed, the key fitted perfectly in the original keyhole.
The charity announced the bizarre news today saying there was no fine for a late return – and they would in fact like to thank the person who returned it with a gift of membership to the charity.
The Norman tower keep, which is thought to have been built between 1077 and 1108, stands in St Leonard’s Street.
Roy Porter, English Heritage’s senior properties curator, said: “It’s certainly one of the most puzzling packages we’ve ever received and just in time for Christmas. It’s a modern mystery to add to the historical questions posed by the tower.
“We’d love to reward the honesty of whoever returned the key with a gift of membership. If that’s you, please get in touch.”
He added: “This year has been an extremely challenging one for English Heritage and we would like to thank all our members and visitors for their support, without which we just couldn’t care for historic gems like St Leonard’s Tower.”