In older homes it is common to have an old electrical panel vacated and a new one installed at a nearby location..
At this particular home inspection I came across a door in the stairwell. The original panel had been removed from the enclosure space. There were several potential issues within this enclosure.
Improperly terminated wires. The wires at the top were dead, but we have no way of knowing where the other end terminates. The wires at the bottom are newer, and live, but again improperly terminated. All wire terminations should be within a junction box.
The white papery material on the back is more than likely asbestos. This was used as an insulator. With respect to the potential asbestos, it is best left undisturbed. I would recommend that if there is going to be any work in this area, that the material be professionally removed or encapsulated.