17th-Century Coin Hoard Found Under An English Family’s Floor Sells At Auction For $75,000

Published May 13, 2024

Betty and Robert Fooks were renovating their kitchen in West Dorset when they came across a 400-year-old coin hoard buried right beneath the floor.

Poorton Coin Hoard

Duke’s AuctioneersA “Charles I gold unite crown coin” from the Poorton Coin Hoard. This piece alone recently sold for more than $6,000 at auction.

When Robert Fooks took a pick axe to his concrete kitchen floor in West Dorset, he hoped to create a higher ceiling. Instead, he found more than 1,000 gold and silver coins buried more than two feet deep.

The coins, which recently sold for more than $75,000 at auction, are from the 17th century and were likely hidden during the First English Civil War.

The Fooks Family Discovers The Poorton Coin Hoard Under Their Kitchen Floor

Dorset Coin Hoard

Duke’s AuctioneersThe Fooks family found more than 1,000 coins buried beneath their 400-year-old home in West Dorset.

In October 2019, Robert Fooks brought a pick axe and a flashlight to the kitchen of his 400-year-old house in West Dorset and started to get to work. He and his wife, Betty, were in the midst of a renovation project designed to add more height to the room by digging up the floors. But as Robert dug, he suddenly came across a glazed bowl overflowing with gold and silver coins.

“One evening, I was with the children and my husband was digging with a pickaxe when he called to say they’ve found something,” Betty recalled to The Guardian. “He put all the coins in a bucket.”

Robert Fooks had stumbled across more than 1,000 coins from the 17th century. According to a statement from Duke’s Auctioneers, the Poorton Coin Hoard — named after the Fooks’ house, South Poorton Farm — included “James I and Charles I gold coins, silver half crowns, shillings and sixpences; Elizabeth I, Phillip and Mary silver shillings and sixpenses.”

The coins were then sent to the British Museum for examination. Experts there determined that they had been hidden between 1642 and 1644. For this reason, it seems that someone hid the coins at South Poorton Farm during the early years of the First English Civil War (1642-1646).

How These Coins Relate To The English Civil War

English Civil War

Public DomainThe Battle of Marston Moor which took place on July 2, 1644.

The First English Civil War started in 1642, and formed a part of a larger conflict known as the Wars of the Three Kingdoms or the British Civil Wars. The conflict took place between supporters of the monarch, King Charles I, and Parliament, who believed that the king was too powerful.

At the end of the war, King Charles I was executed and his son Charles II was exiled, leading to the establishment of a republic, the short-lived Commonwealth of England. The republic came to an end in 1660, when Charles II returned to the country and took power as king.

Charles II

Public DomainThough exiled after the English Civil War, King Charles II eventually returned to England and took power.

Researchers suspect that the coins were hidden under the house in West Dorset because of the English Civil War. At the time, supporters of Parliament and supporters of the king often seized each others’ property, so whoever buried the coins was likely trying to protect their assets.

But not much is known about the person who hid the coins, or what happened to them. It seems likely that something prevented them from returning to claim the coins but their fate remains a historical mystery.

“If we hadn’t lowered the floor, they would still be hidden there,” Betty Fooks said. “I presume the person intended to retrieve them but never got the chance.”

After reading about the Poorton Coin Hoard found in West Dorset, go inside the story of King Henry VIII’s children and the role they played in English history. Or, discover the history of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot.

Kaleena Fraga
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Kaleena Fraga has also had her work featured in The Washington Post and Gastro Obscura, and she published a book on the Seattle food scene for the Eat Like A Local series. She graduated from Oberlin College, where she earned a dual degree in American History and French.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
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Fraga, Kaleena. "17th-Century Coin Hoard Found Under An English Family’s Floor Sells At Auction For $75,000." AllThatsInteresting.com, May 13, 2024, https://allthatsinteresting.com/poorton-coin-hoard. Accessed May 23, 2024.