Chateau Floorboard Secrets

A hidden diary written by a carpenter on the floorboards of a French Alpine chateau provides a rare insight into the private lives of villagers in the late 19th Century.

When the new owners of Chateau Picomtal decided to restore the parquet flooring in some of their upstairs rooms, they made a remarkable discovery. On the underside of the floorboards - invisible until the boards were taken up to be replaced - were long messages written out in pencil. The messages were dated over several months between 1880 and 1881, and were signed by the carpenter who installed them, Joachim Martin.

What he left behind was a kind of secret diary intended to be read only long after he was dead and buried.  Joachim's diary touches on matters of sex, crime and religion - and sometimes a combination of all three! - allowing us an extraordinary behind-the-scenes glimpse at the goings-on in the small rural community of Les Crottes, just outside the chateau walls.

For further information about this fascinating discovery, see the BBC news website.