Sunday, 9 October 2011

Romsey Abbey - 1845

Coutesy : Project Gutenburg
In 1845 a coffin was discovered in the nave, under an enormous slab of stone, measuring 11 ft. 5 in. by 3 ft. 9 in. Mr. Ferrey, the architect, under whose supervision the restoration of the abbey was then being carried out, thus describes the discovery:

“Great care was exercised in raising the stone. Upon its being moved, there was discovered immediately under it a stone coffin, 5 ft. 10 in. long, by 2 ft. wide in the broadest part, and 1 ft. deep; containing the skeleton of a priest in good preservation, the figure measuring only 5 ft. 4 in. in length; the head elevated and resting in a shallow cavity worked out of the stone, so as to form a cushion. He had been buried in the vestments peculiar to his office, viz., the alb and tunic. Across the left arm was the maniple, and in his hand the chalice covered with the paten. Considering these remains to be about five hundred years old, it is remarkable that they should be in such preservation. The chalice and paten are of pewter, the latter much corroded: a great portion of the linen alb remains; the maniple is of brown velvet fringed at the extremity, and lined with silk; portions of the stockings remain, and also all the parts of the boots, though from the decay of the sewing, they have fallen in pieces. About 2 ft. from the end of the coffin is a square hole through the bottom, with channels worked in the stone leading to it. This was probably a provision to carry off the fluids, which would be caused by the decomposition of the body. On the sides of the coffin could be traced the marks of the corpse when it was first deposited, from which it would appear that the deceased had been stout as well as short of stature. It is to be regretted that the inscription being stripped from the verge of the slab, we have no means of knowing whose remains these are. The Purbeck marble slab has never been disturbed, being found strongly secured by mortar to the top of the stone coffin. It is curious that the covering should be so gigantic, and the coffin under it so small: judging by the size of the slab and the beauty of the large floriated cross, it might have been supposed to cover some dignified ecclesiastic. This is clearly not the case.... In the absence of any known date, judging from the impress on the marble, and the shape of the stone coffin, I should assign both to the early part of the fourteenth century.”

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