The owner of a ‘haunted’ house was taken aback to discover a secret door to a mining vault hidden inside one of the walls.
Despite having owned the house, which sits on Basset Street in Camborne, for years, Rupert Ellis had no clue the property was hiding such an interesting story.
But he believes the house ‘helped’ him to discover the vault in a series of ‘spooky coincidences’.
The owner of coffee bar Espressini in Falmouth said: ‘I’m in the firm belief that this house chose me and not the other way round. There have been some very spooky coincidences!
‘Talking to several local people, who include the great-grandson of the mine captain who lived and worked here, I’ve discovered a wealth of historical information about the house and contents hidden for a generation including a walk-in vault used for storing mine and mineral maps which had been bricked up and plastered over.
‘There’s been this process of taking off layers and getting back to the original. I started chatting to a builder who worked on the house in the 1980s and he said “Have you found the vault yet?”
‘I was like “the what?!”
‘I spent a week or so tapping the walls, trying to work out exactly where it would be.
‘It’s a little bit nuts but I do have a suspicion the house is haunted. There have been a lot of coincidences in this house and things that have happened.’
The moment Rupert discovered the vault door was one of those strange happenings.
He was hanging a poster and created four little test holes in the wall, only to see that there was something behind it.
When he got a jackhammer, the badge of T Withers and Sons on the heavy vault door became visible.
Strangely enough, the poster had been leaning up against that exact spot on the wall for a year and a half.
Rupert reckons the room has been trying to draw his attention to it secret.
‘About three or four months ago I had an incident with the lights switching on and off,’ he said.
‘It’s not the first time that things have happened in the house – there are certain things where I think, I can’t explain that.
‘When I first moved in there was all manner of banging going on. I do get woken up at a certain time each night as well. A friend stayed here who claimed to hear footsteps. There have been some unexplainable scenarios.’
Even stranger is that the door’s badge refers to T Withers and Son, from Bilston in the Midlands.
When Rupert talked to his mum, she revealed that his great-grandfather came from Bilston and was a locksmith.
‘It was just so bizarre,’ he said. ‘You can put things down to being coincidental but there are so many coincidences here. So I think I have a responsibility to put the house back in the way it wants to be put back.’
It turns out that the house was originally built by the Basset family around 1832, and was the former head office of the Tehidy Minerals Company.
The vault would have been a walk-in safe contained mine plans, wages, and ore.
The infill on the sides of the safe contains chunks of turquoise copper, which hints that waste from the mine was used in the building of the house.
Rupert’s bedroom would have been the boardroom.
He’s now setting about restoring the building to its original state, starting with getting rid of the laminate flooring to reveal the parquet tiles underneath.
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