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The future occupants of this house could be in for quite the surprise…

But, if all goes to plan, it should end up being a nice one.

A family in Haymarket, Virginia, has left a nice surprise for the future occupants of their house – although it may not seem like that at first.

Arwen Bicknell, an editor at a think tank in Washington DC, and her family are remodelling part of their home.

This is what it looks like currently, but soon the space next to the fireplace will be covered and flanked each side by bookshelves.

A wall that is being remodelled

Knowing that the space would be covered and not destroyed completely, Arlene “knew we’d be doing something with it”.

The 46-year-old has moved around a lot and has always left little tidbits in hidden spots for the new occupants to discover at a later date – whether it’s newspapers or photos of the house as it looked at that time.

But remembering a book she’d read as a kid, Arwen had a different idea. One that’s bound to freak someone out, if only for a second.

A skeleton left by the Bicknell family

Arwen left a skeleton in the hole, along with a bunch of stuff from 2017, and said she loved the idea of someone coming across it in years to come.

“Obviously I’ll never know about it, so it doesn’t much matter to me; I just like the idea of someone stumbling over whatever I left and being surprised, maybe pleased,” she said.

It’s a feeling she’s familiar with herself, and knows reactions can be mixed.

“I know I’ve always been intrigued and enchanted when I have moved into a new place and found stuff someone else left behind. Sometimes I reacted with ‘Oh, I wish I could know that person,’ (a box of old-timey 1920s photos in a gardening shed) and sometimes more with ‘Eeek. What kind of person would …?’ (a rubbish bag of underwear shoved into a hole under a bathroom sink).”

Arwen Bicknell and her family

Some of the items Arwen left included a photo of her family – husband John, son Thomas and dog Amy Pond (one for the Doctor Who fans out there) – as well as 2017 coins, news articles, a note, and copies of books written by her and John while living in the house.

The Boston State House time capsule, which was buried by Governor Samuel Adams, among others, in 1795 and rediscovered in 1855 before being dug up and buried again in 2015, provided some inspiration for Arwen – as did Gothic novel Mistress of Mellyn.

“I was enchanted by the story of the Boston State House time capsule a couple years ago, and having moved around a lot, I’ve always like leaving little things in hidden spots (the attic, a crawlspace) for new occupants to discover later — or not,” Arwen said.

“I’d like to say the idea for the skeleton itself came from Poe, and while his writing was a factor, I’m honestly not that classy. It really sprang from a romance novel I read as a kid — a Gothic novel by Victoria Holt called Mistress of Mellyn, where a skeleton turns up in a priest’s hole during a key scene. And since I love decorating for Halloween, we happened to have a plastic skeleton in our basement storage.”

Here’s to hoping someone uncovers all this in years to come.

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