A priceless hoard of Victorian rubbish – including champagne bottles, tennis balls, sports shoes, bowler hats, medicine jars, clay pipes and tobacco tins – has been discovered bricked up under steps leading to the imposing courtyard at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich.

The haul is so precisely the kind of domestic junk that any untidy householder shoves into a cupboard before an unexpected visitor, that archaeologists wonder if it represents just that, a hasty cleanup before a grand event at a site where royalty were regular visitors.

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