Mystery as key missing for almost 50 years reappears with anonymous apology note

Mystery as key missing for almost 50 years reappears with anonymous apology note

A key which opened the doors of an 11th Century tower has been returned 47 years later with a note saying: “Sorry for the delay.”

The identity of the anonymous sender remains a locked mystery – but charity English Heritage has launched an appeal for them to come forward.

The jubilant charity has even offered the ‘borrower’ free membership in return if they come forward.

The key was sent by post to English Heritage with an anonymous note admitting it had been “borrowed” and apologising for the delay in returning it.

It still fits in the original keyholes at St Leonard’s Tower, a Norman tower in Kent, although it no longer rotates.

New locks were installed in the Tower, which was built between 1077 and 1108.

Very little is known about the history of the building or its original purpose, adding to the mystery of the brass key reappearing just before Christmas.

The charity has now launched an appeal after the key, believed to be around 100 years old, was returned “with a tantalising note”.

The note read: “Dear English Heritage. Please find enclosed, large key to…

“St Leonard’s Tower, West Malling, Kent.”

It added: “Borrowed 1973. Returned 2020.

“Sorry for the delay. Regards.”

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.”

Now the charity wants to “reward the honesty of whoever returned the key with a gift of membership”.

A spokeswoman said: “We don’t know how it went missing. We have no idea who would have taken it.

“We are hoping this person comes forward and helps us connect the dots.”

“It was sent to the customer services team. Everyone was incredibly surprised about receiving this key and excited about it being returned after so long.”

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