Tuesday, October 7 - Unlocking the past

PUBLISHED: 19:20 06 October 2008 | UPDATED: 09:45 10 June 2010

VOLUNTEERS at The National Trust s A La Ronde, near Exmouth, have been carefully trying to unlock the past, after the discovery of a hoard of antique keys.

VOLUNTEERS at The National Trust's A La Ronde, near Exmouth, have been carefully trying to unlock the past, after the discovery of a hoard of antique keys.

A La Ronde is a unique 16-sided house, built on the instructions of two spinster cousins, Jane and Mary Parminter in the 18th Century.

And since the keys have been discovered volunteers have been trying to work out what the keys are for.

Volunteers Ann Butler and Hazel James, who both normally volunteer as room stewards in the house, have methodically been testing each key on each lock in the house, wondering what secrets they may reveal.

They have been recording their finds as they work systematically through the house.

House Steward, Nicola Perryman said: "I found a box of keys whilst sorting through a storage area earlier this year.

"I asked our volunteers for help in sorting though the keys and Hazel and Ann took up the challenge.

"The box contained over 450 items which have been used at A la Ronde over the years.

"The sizes of keys range from tiny clock winding keys to large heavy door keys. We are trying to match up keys to objects which are proving to be time consuming work."

It is hoped that the keys could reveal objects brought back by the Parminters from their grand tour of Europe.

Voluntary work at A la Ronde can be very varied, if you are interested in becoming a volunteer please contact Nicola Perryman, House Steward: on (01395) 265514.

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