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Victorian time capsule is found

FOR MORE than a century, the words of a Victorian teenager, Sydney Reed, lay sealed above the family cottage fireplace in a home-made time capsule - a blue medicine bottle.

Yesterday, the bottle was discovered by a couple renovating their home in Brompton Regis, Exmoor. It contained an ornately handwritten scroll, rolled up and tied with twine.

Denis and Helen Garner found the bottle while they were reopening an inglenook in their cottage and found it masked an old bread oven - the home to the words of a 13-year-old boy confidently reminding the world who built his home.

The message reads: "When this oven was shut up and the grate put in, was on the 20th December 1889. The people who lived here were called James and Mary Ann Sydenham, and their grandson E J Sydenham also their daughter and her husband and two sons, named William Thomas and Mary Jane Reed and Sydney William Reed aged 13 years and Frederick Hadon Reed aged 11; this was written by Sydney."

The bottle and its contents are now in the possession of Exmoor National Park Authority's archaeology department, which is appealing for anyone with information about the Reed family to come forward.