Author John Powell claims to have discovered secret messages about Shakespeare, Sir Isaac Newton, James Watt and painter Edwin Henry Landseer in a window in The Laverton, Westbury.

With echoes of Dan Brown’s bestseller The Da Vinci Code, Mr Powell says he has unravelled a number of coded ciphers, symbols and mathematical equations in the stained glass window on the east wall of the institute.

The 61-year-old, of The Butts in Westbury, believes that the hidden messages were placed by a leading 19th century resident of Westbury, the mill owner, philanthropist and MP for the town, Abraham Laverton.

He said: “The window is incredible, the mathematics are massively complicated.”

As a keen astronomer, Mr Powell’s interest was sparked in the window when he noticed its peculiar star formations.

He said: “In the window there is the belt of Orion but as it appeared in 3,200 BC, from the time of the Egyptian ruler Thutmose the Third.”

He says he uncovered more messages in the window that included ridicule of scientist Isaac Newton, Landseer and inventor James Watt, and also questions the true authorship of Shakespeare’s plays.

In his recently published book, The Westbury Window, Mr Powell claims that Laverton, who lived from 1819 to 1886, hid the messages because he was a Rosicrucian, a believer in an esoteric philosophy, a Freemason and a Knight Templar.

Mr Powell is a retired teacher and former head of the computing department at Stonehenge School, Amesbury.

Westbury town clerk Keith Harvey, whose office is based in the Laverton, said: “Obviously John has seen something no-one else has and I hope his book encourages people to visit The Laverton.”

The Laverton was built for the people of Westbury by the Laverton family in 1873. Today it is a community centre and home to the town council.