Noel Coward telegram to Agatha Christie found in bureau

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Media captionNoel Coward telegram to Agatha Christie found in bureau

A telegram sent by Noel Coward to Agatha Christie has been found hidden inside an old bureau while it was being restored.

The message was sent from Bermuda and is dated September 1957.

It congratulates the writer on her play The Mousetrap breaking the record for the longest running show in London's West End.

The bureau had been bought in an auction of items from Agatha Christie's former home in South Devon.

Gloucestershire furniture restorer Clive Payne, who discovered the telegram when he took the back off the bureau, said he had been asked to repair it by the owner, who wishes to remain anonymous.

'Indisputable proof'

"The client rang me up and said he had a bureau which came from the estate of Agatha Christie which he'd recently purchased," he said.

"As part of the restoration process I needed to remove its back. The usual dirt and muck fell out, but also two pieces of paper.

"It confirmed my client's story [that it had belonged to Agatha Christie].

"To have indisputable proof of what he was saying is lovely. You probably only get this once in a career. It's fantastic."

The telegram reads: "Dear Agatha Christie, much as it pains me I really must congratulate you on The Mousetrap breaking the long run record. All my good wishes, Noel Coward."

Coward's play Blithe Spirit had held the previous record.

Underwear receipt

Christie's grandson, Mathew Prichard, said his grandmother was an admirer of Coward.

"I'd have thought to have had acknowledgement of her achievements at The Mousetrap running so long would have pleased her very much," he said.

"The opinion of her peers and fellow entertainers meant a lot to her."

The other piece of paper was a receipt for underwear, housecoats and night wear from 1952, and addressed to Mrs Mallowan, which was Christie's married name after her second marriage.

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