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Guinness time capsule opened at Elveden Estate

PUBLISHED: 12:00 02 June 2010 | UPDATED: 22:05 07 July 2010

Lord Iveagh struggles to open the Guinness time capsule, concealed in London in 1959, with its rusty key

Lord Iveagh struggles to open the Guinness time capsule, concealed in London in 1959, with its rusty key

Rebecca Gough

It was the year Fidel Castro was sworn in as Cuban Prime Minister, Buddy Holly was killed in a plane crash and the first Barbie doll was produced.

But for one prominent aristocratic family, 1959 was also the year which would be suspended in time until the opening of a special time capsule.

It was the year Fidel Castro was sworn in as Cuban Prime Minister, Buddy Holly was killed in a plane crash and the first Barbie doll was produced.

But for one prominent aristocratic family, 1959 was also the year which would be suspended in time until the opening of a special time capsule.

Some 51 years later and that history came alive for head of the Guinness family, Arthur Guinness, the current and fourth Earl of Iveagh who owns and manages the Elveden Estate in Suffolk, off the A11, when he opened a box containing artefacts from the era - albeit after a brief struggle with the rusty lock.

The bronze box was buried by Lord Iveagh's great grandfather, second Earl of Iveagh, Rupert Guinness, under the foundation stone of the former brewery in Park Royal in London in 1959 to celebrate 200 years of the black stuff, but brought to the Elveden Estate three years ago when the building was demolished.

Since then it has sat on a shelf in the office of the current Lord Iveagh until yesterday .

“I knew my great grandfather was very passionate about time and he had a very scientific mind. It was he who encouraged the bicentenary and all the events,” he said. “It could have gone largely unnoticed if it wasn't for him.”

Anticipation was rife amongst guests, the public and members of staff who gathered around as the wax seal was chiselled off in the estate courtyard, only to find the lock rusted over.

After a few minutes of drilling however, and a healthy dollop of force, the box was found to hold perfectly preserved copies of The Times and Irish Times, both dated October 8, 1959, a summer 1959 edition of the Guinness Times, a May - June 1959 edition of the Guinness Harp magazine, a third edition of the Guinness Book of Records, and two commemorative stamps dedicated to founder of the Guinness brewery, Arthur Guinness who established the business in 1759.

The title of Earl of Iveagh was created in 1919 for Arthur's great-grandson Edward Guinness, who was made Viscount Elveden at the same time as being given the earldom. This has continued through the family although the Guinness company was floated in 1886.

The contents of the box, embossed with the infamous Guinness harp, will now remain at the Elveden Estate and the box used to create a 2010 time capsule to be kept in a safe on the grounds.

Lord Iveagh, 40, who was watched by his two sons, Arthur, seven, and Rupert, four, said: “We now want to encourage people to send us ideas about what to put into a 2010 capsule. All the things inside have stood the test of time beautifully. We've now got such fun artefacts and it gives us inspiration as to what can go in for the next 50 years.

“It would be nice to have something about the Elveden Estate but we'll have to be careful about digital information as we don't know if anybody will be able to read it then. I think we'll also encourage my own boys to do a painting or drawing to go in. It will be nice to get the intergenerational thing going.”

t First item out of the box was a copy of The Irish Times, dated October 8, 1959, city edition. Stories included on the front page of the broadsheet paper were fears over strikes from Irish Airline staff and the continuation of a Russian space rocket on its course to the moon.

However there were also fears of a rift developing between the Soviets and Chinese.

t In contrast, the front page of The Times, of the same date, was dedicated to classified advertisements with no news stories whatsoever.

t Also of particular interest was a red, hardback copy of the Guinness Book of World Records, third edition. This included a forward by the then Lord Iveagh, Arthur Guinness.

t A copy of two in-house magazines were also included which were The Guinness Harp Magazine, bicentenary issue, referred to “The Journal of the Home of Guinness”, and the Guinness Time .

t Finally, a “First Day of Issue” envelope was pulled from the box which held two commemorative stamps featuring a picture of Guinness founder Arthur Guinness.

Also on October 8, 1959;

t Most significantly this was polling day with people heading to the ballot boxes in a move which would eventually see Harold MacMillan to his third successive victory.

The headlines were uncertain however and the EDP, then a broadsheet newspaper, billed the event as: “…one of the most unpredictable elections in years”.

This was put down to an influx of first time voters, population shifts due to slum clearance and industrial development, and a large number of Liberal candidates.

t Meanwhile, 300 people had spent hours marooned on Southend pier after a fire broke out. Although it was said they were in no danger, many were taken away by boat after climbing down the pier stanchions.

t Iraqi Prime Minister Abdul Karim Kassem was shot at as he drove through Baghdad.

t And the then West German government said it regarded as “very serious” the hoisting of hammer-and-compass flags by Eastern Germans on the overhead railway running through West Berlin.


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