Quest for the Golden Hare

In 1979 Kit Williams created a jewel encrusted 18-carat golden hare, as the prize for whoever followed a riddle to its hidden location.

The clues to the location of the hare were contained in Williams’ book “Masquerade”, published in 1979. The story follows the character Jack Hare who loses the golden hare while taking it from the Moon to her lover the Sun. The reader of the book is left to find the location. The book contained a set of 15 exquisite drawings that provided clues to the location of the treasure.

A Drawing from Masquerade

Old as Earth, a Drawing from Masquerade

Clues were formed by rearranging the letters surrounding the pictures in an order given by the subjects in the drawings.

The final clue was contained by rearranging the letters around a picture of Isaac Newton to form the phrase: “Catherine’s Longfinger Over Shadows Earth Buried Yellow Amulet Midday Points The Hour In Light Of Equinox Look You”. The initials provided a second clue, CLOSE BY AMPTHILL.

The golden hare was buried near a statue of Catherine of Aragon, in a park in Bedfordshire near Ampthill. The specific location of where to dig was indicated by the shadow cast by the statue at midday on the Vernal Equinox, March 21.

Two million copies of the book were sold during the excitement over the treasure hunt that gripped Britain for two years. The clues in the book were solved correctly in 1982 by two Manchester physics teachers, Mike Barker and John Rousseau.

But the hunt also involved scandal and intrigue. The prize winner was “Ken Thomas”, revealed to be an alias for Dugald Thompson, who got the location through a partnership with Williams’ former girlfriend. She knew the approximate location of the hare, which was then located with metal detectors. Barker and Rousseau had actually unearthed the prize, but hadn’t noticed it; Thompson discovered it in piles they left behind.

The hare was used as a prize for a holding company belong to Thompson, but it was never claimed and was eventually auctioned at Sotheby’s in December 1988 for £31,900, to an anonymous buyer. Williams had unsuccessfully bid on the hare, but dropped out at £6,000.

Williams was briefly reunited with the hare during a BBC Four sixty minute documentary on his work, shown on December 2, 2009. After the show, the hare returned to its anonymous owner in Egypt. The documentary showcased the best of William’s from the last three decades.

Williams is a talented artist, who works in a colorful, surreal style.

Kit Williams - Wishing Fish Clock, Regent Arcade, Cheltenham

Kit Williams - Wishing Fish Clock, Regent Arcade, Cheltenham

This clock was created by Kit Williams. Its working mechanism was built by clockmaker Michael Harding. As the duck at the top lays its golden eggs, they travel down into the lower part of the clock.

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