Mystery of hidden war time love notes at Waddesdon's Five Arrows pub

A secret war time romance between a soldier and his sweetheart have been uncovered during renovation works at a Waddesdon pub.

Friday, 29th January 2016, 7:00 am
Updated Friday, 29th January 2016, 11:49 am

Around 100 letters were discovered by an electrician as he laid new cabling in the roof space at the Five Arrows pub.

The letters are believed to have been sent between Eliza Turnham, daughter of the landlord Henry from 1887, and her sweetheart James Wilson Cox, who was the son of Miss Alice de Rothschild’s chauffeur James.

Jack joined the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry early in the First World War and was deployed to France around May 1915.

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Eliza Turnham pictured in 1946

Waddesdon Estate archivist Catherine Taylor said: “We think that Eliza must have hidden the letters away, and they are one of the most significant recent finds here at Waddesdon.

“Eliza was 13 years older than Jack and in some of the letters it seems like writing between an older sister and a younger brother.

“But in others he talks about ‘perhaps stealing a kiss’ and they are very romantic, it’s really intriguing.”

Jack survived the war and came back to live in Waddeson, close to Eliza.

Eliza Turnham pictured in 1946

He followed in his father’s footsteps and worked as a chauffeur to the Rothschilds, marrying a girl from Luton in 1923.

Eliza never married, perhaps pining for her lost love. She died in 1953 aged around 70 years old.

A selection of the letters are set to go on display at Waddesdon Manor from March 23, as part of the Tales From The Archive exhibition. For more visit www.waddesdon.org.uk