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Antique Chest 1686

Open and is closed!

A DROMORE man has been handed the key to an 'open and shut case' that dates back more than three centuries. The Leader reader in question didn't stumble on the answer to some historical whodunnit, but it's 'case closed' just the same. And it's all thanks to a local locksmith with an eye for antiques.

In our reader's hall stands a 323 year-old wooden chest, its lid obligingly open through all its many generations as a family heirloom, the fate of the key unknown, lost in the dim and distant past.

Its owner took up the tale.

"After completing some work at my home," he said, "Andy from Keyhole Surgery Locksmiths admired the piece of furniture within our hallway, a huge wooden chest dating back to 1686, as indicated by the carvings in the wood. "I haven't been able to find out how we actually got our hands on it but it has been in our family for generations."

I told him that it was from 1686, that it had been through the wars - literally, being caught up in a bombing during the Troubles - and was at the Antiques Roadshow when the popular programme filmed at the Titanic Quarter in Belfast."

Andy being a locksmith, it was no surprise that he was eager to see the key, which was when our reader got a long-standing frustration . . off his chest.

"I could detect a touch of excitement in his (Andy's) voice," he said, "but I think he was a bit disappointed to learn that we have never had a key for it, well, not as far as I can remember; the chest has always been open."

It was then, after a quick inspection, that Andy offered to make a key for the imposing antique.

"So you can imagine," said its owner, "that to have had this piece of furniture for so long and not had a key, I was delighted to take him up on the offer.

"Now, our piece is complete. A wonderful gesture."