A mother of two had always hoped to stumble upon a hidden treasure, but she never imagined she would get to uncover it during a beach cleanup event. As she got involved in getting rid of all the trash littering the beach, she dug up a chest that had nothing to do with bottles or plastic.
The domed lid raised above the sand let her know there was something special to be discovered.
What are the details?
Jennie Fitzgerald, 38, was out with several people grabbing the litter on the beach. As she carried her bucket, the woman suddenly spotted something different. A wooden chest was poking out of the sand, right between Cart Gap and Happisburgh in Norfolk, England.
She started digging it up and was soon able to haul out the padlocked box. The chest was about as big as a shoebox.
Jennie, who is a mother to Harrison and Darcey, was with her team of litter haulers as she took the chest with her, not trusting the sea to let her find it again. She had to carry the chest for about a mile and a half as she went along the coat, getting rid of the trash.
The woman eventually met her husband James, 40, and they went back to their caravan located in Sea Palling.
That's where the family from Norwich decided to uncover the mystery and find out what was inside the treasure chest.
They found 108 coins inside. According to Jennie, they look like Victorian pennies and some medieval groats.
"I never dreamed that I would find something like this. I am always on the beach with my eyes down, kind of hoping to find a couple of coins, but this was on another level," Jennie shared with The Epoch Times.
She still can't believe her luck and pinches herself from time to time to realize it truly happened.
"It's amazing—it's a once-in-a-lifetime find. What are the chances of that? It's lucky; I could easily have gone past it; I'm buzzing. At first, I liked the shape of this piece of wood in the sand, so it drew me in. Then I heaved it out, and I realized it was like a proper pirate treasure chest," she recalled about the time when she noticed the chest.
In the beginning, the mother was worried she might have interfered with a game for treasure hunting or for a time capsule, but no one showed up looking for the missing clue.
Once she and her kids took the chest home and gently cleaned the box with toothbrushes on their kitchen table, they realized it was very old.
They weren't able to open the padlock set on the chest, but they saw that the wood was starting to chip away at the base and used a screwdriver to find out what was inside.
Was there anything else inside?
The chest didn't just have the coins and the groats. Besides the money, it also included pieces of gemstones or glass, a signet ring, a pocket watch, and a unique old-fashioned key that had "Ernest" engraved on it.
The mom, who is employed as a medical secretary, said the box was made of iron and wood and that it had a hidden lining that was meant to be waterproof and keep the content intact.
The huge padlock that wouldn't open was marked with "VR" plus the picture of a crown, so Jennie believes it must be from Victorian times.
The woman let the local liaison representative know about her find, and she has decided to take the chest to a museum and also inform the owner of the beach where it was uncovered.
"It is a solid box, and the padlock is still intact: someone didn't want us to get in," Jennie added.
The mother was very excited about the way the chest got to her family, and she was willing to do thorough research to find out who Ernest was. She also revealed that her son thought the coins inside would make them all rich in the first few seconds.