My lunch was a little dry today, dear

11 July 2014


Past its best: the 100-year-old lunch, with its wrapper, an 1896 copy of the Stockport Advertiser

Past its best: the 100-year-old lunch, with its wrapper, an 1896 copy of the Stockport Advertiser

SLICES of bread from a workman's packed lunch from more than a century ago have been found perfectly preserved in a church organ.

Leaders at the Padiham Road Methodist Church in Burnley, Lancashire, believe that the snack was probably left inside the Hardy & Son instrument when it was made in the 1890s. With it were pages from the Stockton Advertiser, which included reports of fighting in the Boer War.

The church's property steward, Peter Yates, explained that the 2500-pipe organ was being removed for a £650,000 refurbishment. "We put it on eBay - with fingers crossed and a smile on our faces - with a starting price of £500."

It sold for £1650 to a German buyer, but he took only the pipes and the organ stops, leaving the church to dismantle the rest.

Mr Yates said that his wife, Kathryn, the church's organist for 30 years, and some friends, discovered that the swell box, which controls volume, was lined with a thin layer of wood. "When they removed it, a load of pine shavings fell out. Then they found the newspaper, and a brown paper parcel. Inside were these pieces of bread.

"They were hard, more like a rusk, but otherwise in perfect condition. We have put them in an airtight box until we work out what to do with them. The whole thing has gone viral - we have even been offered a carbon-dating test by someone who was once a Home Office pathologist.

"It's been suggested that it might be Britain's oldest sandwich, but there's no filling, and we are not even sure if it was buttered.

"The organ was moved here 50 years ago, when two churches amalgamated. It was moved in sections, and the swell box must have come as one piece. The bread must have been left when originally fitted."

The church's minister, the Revd Phil Clarke, said that he was getting weary of jokes about "the bread of life", and "spreading bread on the water", but said: "We are pleased that the pipes are going to be reused."


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