Secret Victorian gyp discovered at Selwyn College

A routine renovation uncovered a surprising artefact in the college’s Old Court.

atticks baths floorboards gyp old court Selwyn victorian

Refurbishments to Selwyn College’s Old Court have revealed a number of historical trinkets including cigarette cards, photographs, postcards and a Victorian iron cooking range.

It seems as though the former residents of Selwyn college had a penchant for hiding things; Victorian cigarette packages, air raid warden helmets and old tin baths have all been found in attics or under floorboards in recent years.

The latest in this long line was something more substantial – an original iron cooking range, along with postcards, letters and photos.

Selwyn cooker 1

The birds have taken their toll

Found earlier this week, the collection was discovered behind a wall in one of the college’s kitchens, during a standard refurbishment on the third floor of Old Court. The accommodation block is Selwyn’s oldest, built for its first students.

Stamps found at the site suggest the assortment is from 1912. With the college itself only founded in 1882, this is a real insight into its early history.


Cigarettes – cool since 1912

Despite earlier discoveries, the preservation of the cooker came as a surprise  to the college’s maintenance manager, Doug Benzie, who told reporters: “some of my guys were stripping out the old wooden panels in one of the kitchens, and they called me to say you wouldn’t believe what we found.”

This mounted photo of Selwyn chapel was also discovered.

Selwyn Chapel

Mount that frame

Sadly, the cooker has been hidden behind the wall once again as the refurbishment resumes, but plans to keep it on permanent display have already been suggested.

Meanwhile, the college archivist has begun the search to find the owners of the items in question, by attempting to trace the original occupants of the floor during the period.

The Tab does not condone the ripping up of floorboards or the demolition of walls in search of artefacts. But if you do find something, make sure to tell us about it.