Archaeologists have begun excavating about 3,000 skeletons from a burial ground used during the period of the Great Plague in 1665.

The Bedlam burial ground is at the site of the new Liverpool Street station that will serve the cross-London Crossrail line.

Used from 1569 to at least 1738, the burial site was also known as Bethlehem and the New Churchyard. Tests on excavated plague victims will bring further understanding of the evolution of the plague bacteria strain.

Bird bath bafflement after theft

A distinctive solid bronze bird bath worth £9,000 has been stolen from a garden.

The sculpture, called Noah’s Plate, is 60cm in diameter, with small animals and octopuses placed round the edge, Sussex Police said.

It is believed to have been stolen from the garden of a property in Lewes, East Sussex, between mid-February and the beginning of March while the owner was away. Inspector Rob Lovell said: “This bronze sculpture is very distinct in style and of great sentimental value to the owner.”

Who’s paying for the meal, dear?

The decision on who pays when David and Samantha Cameron go out for a date night depends on “who remembers to bring their wallet”, the Prime Minister has revealed.

Mr Cameron was speaking after actor Emma Watson, speaking at the HeForShe campaign for gender equality at the weekend, pleaded for women to be allowed to be “chivalrous” and pick up the bill some of the time.

Asked during an interview with Heart North West radio whether he or Samantha paid when they went out on date nights together, Mr Cameron said: “We have a joint account so it depends who remembers to bring their wallet. I try not to forget mine, let me put it that way.”

Churchill acquisition for nation

A major collection of Sir Winston Churchill’s paintings now belongs to the nation, 50 years after the wartime prime minister’s death.

The Churchill family offered the 37 works in lieu of £9,404,990 of inheritance tax, following the death of the politician’s last surviving child, Lady Mary Soames, last year.

All but two of the paintings – which span 1915 to the late 1950s – will remain at Chartwell, the Churchill family’s Kent home, which is open to the public, where they have been on loan. One will remain in the Houses of Parliament and the other in the Churchill War Rooms.

Write in and win your own inn

A woman who won a country inn in an essay-writing contest more than two decades ago now wants to give it away in the same manner.

Janice Sage is asking prospective owners of the Centre Lovell Inn and Restaurant in Maine to persuade her why they should have the opportunity to take over the facility, in 200 words or less.

Ms Sage, who is retiring, expects more than 7,500 entries – and at 125 US dollars (£83) per entry, the total could end up surpassing the inn’s estimated value of 900,000 US dollars (£600,000). A winner will be selected by May 21.

Off piste and among the vineyards

La Plagne may be a bustling ski resort in the Alps, but a badly programmed GPS will not be able to distinguish it from Plagne, population 91 and some 440 miles away.

When a Belgian radio station took several busloads of youngsters skiing, passengers on one of the vehicles were surprised to find themselves among southern French vineyards close to Spain and nowhere near the famous snow-capped mountain range.

Studio Brussels radio station said a bus official had complained that there are too many Plagnes. “We put the wrong one in,” he added. “We didn’t have the postal code.” The misplaced skiers were quickly returned from Plagne near Spain to the famous La Plagne.

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