The great gnome mystery is solved after death of ‘gentleman’ Peter
It has baffled villagers for ten years, but the Brattleby gnome mystery has finally been solved thanks to a man’s dying wish.
Peter Leighton, 61, of Main Road, started placing gnomes into gardens during the dead of night back in 2003.
But his secret was finally revealed during a eulogy given by son David at his funeral on Monday, October 21.
Peter had died nine days earlier, having lost an eight-year battle with prostate cancer.
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‘The funny thing is mum thinks gnomes are pretty tacky. Apparently they lower the value of your house by £500’@Leighton
But his dying wish was to come clean about his nocturnal fun.
And son David, 32, who lives in Australia, revealed how his dad instructed him and pal Ben Page to spread some gaudy cheer with gnome-laden rucksacks.
He said: “My cousin came round one day after his first ever visit to a pound shop and one of the items he bought was a gnome.
“Dad said it would be funny to scatter gnomes around the village.
“He said he would pay for them but I would plant them.
“Me and Ben had a map of the village and worked out a route of who had security lights and who didn’t.
“We carried two big rucksacks full of gnomes and had to contend with barking dogs and gravel.
“It was so much fun dad decided we should do it again.
“There was enough of us in the know that we could share and laugh together.
“I remember being on the phone to dad saying there were reporters and film crews in the village and he was really laughing. He couldn’t believe it.
“Initially we made the decision that in my eulogy that the truth behind the gnome mystery had to figure and that it was appropriate. This was also his wish.
“The funny thing is mum thinks gnomes are pretty tacky. Apparently they lower the value of your house by £500.”
Residents of the pretty village near Lincoln first woke to find the visitors among the blooms in June 2003.
Then another dose of pint-sized cheer arrived the following summer.
And in June 2005, colourful garden miniatures cropped up among the pansies underneath the village road sign, followed by 20 gnomes in a bus shelter that December with a letter asking people to give them good homes.
Some of the gnomes languished in garages and others were adopted by gardeners.
But no one came forward to admit they were the mysterious benefactor.
However, the brains behind the prank was Peter – and his son David said it was typical of his nature.
“Dad was a good man, a great man and a gentleman,” said David.
“He had a great sense of humour. Work hard, play hard was his mantra.”
Parish council chairman Mike Spencer who gave one of the eulogies, said: “David did the last eulogy and said there was something for me that his dad had wanted him to know. Because of the occasion I did not immediately grasp what he was saying.
“The guy we had down as the gnomes culprit was a bit of a joker and he worked for someone that actually supplied gnomes to pound shops.
“He denied it with a sort of smile on his face. We now know we were very wide of the mark.”
Anti-speed campaigner Peter, who , who was born in Manchester, is survived by wife Erica, son David, and daughters Jenny, 33, and Deanna, 28. cor
He was a retired civil servant who volunteered his organisational development expertise to help prostate and breast cancer charities after he became ill.