The Body in a Well

Found October 1896, near Shakespeare Cliff, between Dover and Folkestone, Kent.

In a small box, found floating at the foreshore by a lad named McKeen:

I, Charles Pilcher, murdered Margaret Hutchinson on November 23rd, 1870, afterwards putting the body in a well at Norwood, which, I believe, has never been found yet, and of late I can’t sleep. I can always see her waiting for me at her pantry, that was our meeting place. To-night I have made up my mind to end my miserable existence by jumping over-board. My body will be good food for the fishes. I am not fit for anything else. So good-bye to everybody. I have no friends to weep for me. I am forsaken by all.

Inquiries at the police station in Norwood, south east London, some 26 years after the alleged murder, found no recollection of a Margaret Hutchinson being reported missing, nor of a body being discovered in the district. “It was pointed out by the old inspectors,” reported the Canterbury Journal, “that Norwood had entirely changed in character during the last quarter of a century. Thousands of new houses had been erected, new roads made, and wells built over. Most wells had entirely disappeared since that time.”

[Illustrated Police News and Canterbury Journal, 10 October 1896]

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Love From Hubert

Found 6 January 1907, on the shore near Ulverston, Cumbria.

In a stout bottle, on a piece of ordinary envelope:

Finder please give this to relatives of Bertha Magnussam, Wavertree, Liverpool, England. Love from Hubert, and good-bye.

Inquiries were being made by the Liverpool police.

[Lancashire Evening Post, 10 January 1907]

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An introduction to Messages from the Sea

Messages from the Sea is a collection of letters and notes from a lost era, found washed up in bottles on shores around the world.

The messages tell of foundering ships, missing ocean liners, and shipwrecked sailors, and contain moving farewells, romantic declarations, and intriguing confessions.

Dating from the late-19th and early-20th centuries, they demonstrate the brave, lonely and fragile nature of life on the ocean waves.

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