Edinburgh tourists discover historic bible with secret messages at tram stop

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A family who discovered an early 20th-century French Bible bearing touching handwritten messages near an Edinburgh tram stop while on holiday in the capital say they are desperate to find the book with its original owner .

Gemma Stott, 33, was stunned when she opened the velvet-bound religious text ripped from a set of balustrades by her stepson Elliot Nellist in Balgreen Road to discover a collection of personalized letters, newspaper clippings and telegrams dating back centuries.

The missives, written as early as 1904, are all in French except for a note sent to Bournemouth in 1962, which carries a message in English.

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However, they give few clues to the origin of the book, which appears to have been passed down through generations of a family, before it was picked up by the curious eight-year-old Elliott.

Gemma, from South Shields, is now determined that the ‘sentimental’ keepsake will be returned to its rightful owner after it was left on the street.

She said Edinburgh live“We were just walking down the street on the way to the zoo when Elliott picked him up.

“We thought it looked really old, so I flipped through it when we got back and it looks like it’s been passed down from generation to generation.

“There are all these little notes and complex messages. Most of them are in French and some of them mention people by name. Then there are postcards, telegrams, small passages noted.

“It would be really nice to give it back to the family.”

The book is covered in a “velvet-like” slipcase and bears the initials “PJ” on the cover – which seem to represent the name “Pierette Juillard”.

Inside, the paraphernalia includes a bookmark in the shape of a cross, dating from 1904, notes written on grid paper and a newspaper letter quoting French pastor Charles Wagner from November 1927.



The Bible was filled with handwritten notes, postcards, telegrams and a newspaper clipping from 1927.

The last dated message was written in 1964, according to a pen mark.

In the English telegram, the recipient, named Esther, is encouraged to read Peter chapter five, verse seven with “loving thoughts”.

This passage reads: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares about you.”

Gemma said the book felt like it had been “loved” but had no clue as to where it came from.

“It seems very well maintained. It has a velvet type casing and the initials P and J on the front have been stitched on,” she said.

“The interior is all in French. It contains handwritten wills, all of which end with “amen” and then a series of initials.

“The original owner who received it has the surname Evans and the name on one of the notes is also Evans.”



Gemma said she was on her first family vacation with partner Gavin Nellist, daughter Havana-Lacey Tyers and stepsons Elliott and Charlie when they found the book.
Gemma said she was on her first family vacation with partner Gavin Nellist, daughter Havana-Lacey Tyers and stepsons Elliott and Charlie when they found the book.

Gemma and her family are due to return home to Hebburn on Thursday, but plan to take the Bible with them in the hope that relatives of the original owner will get in touch.

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However, she added that reuniting with the bible’s owner would also be a fond memory of her first trip with partner Gavin Nellist, stepsons Elliott and Charlie and daughter, Havana-Lacey Tryers.

She said: “It’s obviously extremely sentimental, the family is clearly very religious.

“Everything inside has spanned generations and it’s like looking at a family through time.”

Gemma added: ‘For me, my partner and my children it would be a really nice thing to give back to the owner and a very nice memory of our time in Edinburgh.’

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