The story of the
Chrimes, Crimes, Chrymes and Crymes
Life Story in a Bottle
When I first wrote this website story in 2018, it was based on one newspaper article. Since then, several other newspaper articles covering the same story have emerged. As a result, I have re-written this website story, which becomes not so much about Neville Chrimes, as about the way that different newspapers, given the same basic facts, can 'spin' a story in a direction of their choosing.
Firstly, here is an image from the Liverpool "Weekend Echo" of July 31 / August 1 1982 which was the basis of my original 2018 website story. It is without doubt the strangest newspaper item I have found during my research. Read it first, then continue.
These two articles inject an element of mystery into the story, implying that neither the identity nor the whereabouts of Neville Chrimes were known, and the quotation from the police leaves the reader to assume that Neville's life story may have contained information relating to an offence.
Who was Neville Chrimes?
There have only ever been two people named Neville Chrimes. This story clearly relates to Neville Walter David Chrimes who was born in 1918. He graduated from University of Surrey, England in 1958. In 1962 he emigrated to Australia with his wife and two sons, settling in New South Wales. He died on 18 June 1999 in New South Wales.
A different 'spin'
Here are two other newspaper articles, published on the same day as the above two ...
From The Birmingham Mail of 31 July 1982:
Deep in the forest - Neville's life story - Six weeks after the outbreak of the Second World War 43 years ago, 21-year-old Neville Chrimes walked to the Clent Hills from his home in Cradley Heath and buried his life story in the middle of a wood. He wrapped the 46 pages of notepaper, covered with spidery handwriting, in tinfoil and sealed them in a jar to keep out the damp. He had no idea if it would ever be unearthed, but he told any future reader the reason behind the months of work he had just hidden. 'It was buried so as to give people in the future an idea of the conditions and ideas of the age and the time I lived in', he wrote. The time he found himself in was increasingly dominated by the threat of war. He began his tale with his earliest memories of a holiday at the age of two in Blackpool. He ended by saying he might add to his buried memoirs at a later date. He never did. They are now at Kidderminster Police Station. The notes were found by a man searching the woods with a metal detector. Police would like to return the memoirs to Mr. Chrimes, or his family.
The memories in them there hills - Six weeks after the outbreak of the Second World War, 21-year-old Neville Chrimes walked up to the Clent Hills and buried his life story in the middle of a wood. He wrapped the 46 pages of notepaper, covered with spidery handwriting, in tinfoil and sealed it in a jar to keep out the damp. Before burying it four inches underground, he added a note meticulously describing its position - 900 feet above sea level, latitude 52o 25 minutes north, longitude 2o six minutes west. He had no idea if it would ever be unearthed again. But he told any future reader the reason behind the months' work he had just hidden. 'It was buried so as to give people in the future an idea of the conditions and ideas of the age and the time he lived in', he wrote. The time he found himself in was increasingly dominated by the looming threat of war. The bulk of his tale is from the age of six when his father took an appointment with the church in Cradley Heath, and he relates his life at Halesowen Grammar School and his constant unsuccessful amorous adventures with local girls. But these are swept aside by the prospects of war which was finally declared while he was on holiday in Blackpool. 'A casual visitor to the country would not realise that there was a war on at all', he wrote. They are now lying in Kidderminster police station after they were found by a man searching the woods with a metal detector. 'It is really just another piece of lost property for us, even though it's absolutely fascinating', said Supt. Ron Millman.
These latter articles are not at all sinister. The newspaper reporters appear to have had sight of the memoir itself, and there is no hint of suspicion surrounding its contents. Neville's address (at least at the time of writing his memoir) was known. The involvement of the police was solely to return the memoir to a rightful keeper. Whilst two newspapers had stated "Police are trying to dig up a man" and "Kidderminster police say 'We would like to trace Mr. Chrimes'", these other newspapers on the same day state "Police would like to return the memoirs to Mr. Chrimes" and "It is really just another piece of lost property for us".
Neville was found
Two days later, the story develops ...
From The Birmingham Mail of 2 August 1982:
Manuscript writer is traced - The writer of a pre-war time capsule discovered on the Clent Hills is alive and well - in Australia. Sixty-four year old Neville Chrimes buried his 46-page life story in the middle of Nimmins Wood just after the war broke out in 1939. In it he described his boyhood passion for chemistry and life before the war in his home town of Cradley Heath, where his father was a minister. Now he has fulfilled his dreams and is working as a research chemist in Sydney. He went there 20 years ago with his Quinton born wife Celia. But he still does not know his hand-written life story has been discovered by someone scouring the woods with a metal detector. Mr. Chrimes is on holiday in Australia and until he returns his younger brother Derek, of Palmers Cross, Tettenhall , Wolverhampton, cannot contact him to tell him of the discovery. Until Mr. Chrimes says what he wants done with the manuscript, it will stay in safe keeping of Kidderminster police.
Bury it again?
A further day goes by, and there's another twist to the story ...
From The Liverpool Daily Post (Wales edition) of 3 August 1982:
Love secrets go to ground again - A man who buried his love fantasies for posterity - only to find them unearthed, plans to re-bury them. And Neville Chrimes intends to ensure the contents of his life as a student in the 1930s stay secret. Mr. Chrimes, now a 64-year-old research chemist in Sydney, Australia, sealed an account of his life in a bottle and buried it in the woods where he courted girlfriends whe he was just 21. Last week a metal detector fan found the bottle buried four inches deep, while sweeping the woods on the Clent Hills near Kidderminster and handed it to the police. Mr. Chrimes said yesterday: 'I tried to find it myself when I visited my family in Wolverhampton recently, but I couldn't remember just where I'd buried it. I was hoping it wouldn't be found for at least 100 years and certainly not in my lifetime. I referred to certain relationships, and although I didn't go into detail, it might embarrass certain mature ladies if extracts were published.' Mr. Chrimes said his brother would be appointed executor to ensure the document was not published. 'I intend to have it buried again in a protective container that will not be picked up by a metal detector, but it will not be on the Clent Hills. I will have to write an addition to explain its premature discovery. I thought it would be dismissed as the imaginings of a juvenile'.and this shorter but consistent version ...
Life story will go to ground - Mr. Neville Chrimes who buried his life story on the Clent Hills 42 years ago when he was 21 intends to re-bury his story - where it will not be found. Mr. Chrimes, who is now a research chemist in Sydney, Australia, buried the story four inches under the ground in the middle of a wood on the hillside when he lived in Cradley Heath. 'I was hoping it would not be found for at least 100 years', said Mr. Chrimes. 'I referred to certain relationships and it might embarrass certain mature ladies. I intend to have it buried again in a protective container that will not be picked up by a metal detector', he said.
But what actually happened to the memoir?
Information received from a descendant of Neville tells us that, although Neville was reported in the 1982 newspapers as intending to have the memoir buried again, it was not. It made its way to Australia where it remained in the possession of Neville's family for many years.
I can think of at least two reasons for not re-burying the memoir:
But I'm not Neville and, in particular, I don't know why Neville buried the memoir in the first place. Why not keep it safe in his own possession, eventually passing it on through his family? Why BURY it? Whatever his reasons were in 1939, they will have been on his mind in 1982.
I have been informed that Neville was surprised when the memoir was found in 1982, and that although he was offered the opportunity, he "just didn’t feel right about reburying it." There has been a suggestion that the memoir contained several predictions about world events, which subsequently came true (by chance), and this may have increased the level of interest in the memoir by the authorities. The memoir was believed to be in the possession of a family member (2019), but it's whereabouts are not now known (2023), and it is most likely lost.
David Chrimes 2018
Updated January 2019
Re-written March 2023