*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

Mysterious graves found near Hertfordshire church, St Mary Magdalene’s

25 August 2017

ARCHANT

Investigation: Brian Munnery uses a camera to look into the opening of the burial chamber

Investigation: Brian Munnery uses a camera to look into the opening of the burial chamber

A PREVIOUSLY unrecorded burial chamber has been discovered beside a medieval village church.

The eight-foot-long brick tomb at St Mary Magdalene’s, Caldecote, in Hertfordshire, was found by Brian Munnery, a member of a Friends group that cares for the redundant building. As he was clearing overgrown plants in the graveyard, he pulled out a large root, and exposed a small hole and some brickwork.

At first, he thought it was a drain, but when he and the landowner lowered an infra-red camera into the void, they saw what looked like two lead coffins and some bones.

The chamber has now been sealed temporarily while expert advice is sought on how it can best be explored and conserved. “We haven’t been able to find any reference to this chamber anywhere in the church records,” Mr Munnery said.

“Most of the graves here come from two families, the Flints and the Inskips, which intermarried, but nobody we’ve spoken to has any idea that this was here.”

ARCHANTWhat the camera revealed: the interior of the unrecorded burial chamber near St Mary Magdalene’s, Caldecote

Caldecote, near Baldock, dates from the Norman Conquest, and the parish’s first rector was appointed in 1215. The present Grade II* listed church was built in the 14th century. The village was largely abandoned when the Black Death struck in 1349, but a handful of cottages remained in occupation, making it one of the smallest villages in the county, having a population of just 19.

The church continued in use until 1974, when it was declared redundant, and, in 1982, it was put in the care of the charity Friends of Friendless Churches.

Excavations in the village between 1973 and 1977 unearthed artefacts from the Bronze and Iron Ages, but gave no hint of the tomb. Mr Munnery believes that it dates from the late 18th or early 19th centuries, based on the style of brickwork and the fact that neighbouring graves date from 1798 and 1801.

“The history of this place is just amazing,” he said. “You can put your hand down on the original pews from the 14th century, and just think of all who have come before. We just hope others will be able to shed some light to help us solve this mystery.”

Job of the Week

Appointments

Organists and Layworkers

Clerical

Priest in Charge (Rector Designate)

London and Home Counties

Our suburban parish on the border between the London Borough of Croydon and the lovely Surrey countryside and with a spacious modern Rectory, is seeking a Priest-in-Charge (Rector Designate) to lead our church as we seek to fulfil our mission to proclaim Jesus, change lives and serve our community.   We are looking for a leader who, with energy and dynamism, who will develop the vision for the church to enable the children and families work to be a priority in order to grow the church both in numbers and spiritual maturity. In addition, the new person will care and tend for the existing ageing congregation many of whom have ¬faithfully served the church for many years.   The person we are looking for should have: strong communication skills, the ability to engage and encourage people across the age ranges and to convey the church’s mission, vision and priorities; a commitment to preach the Word of God in thoughtful and stimulating ways; an energy and dynamism probably more extrovert than introvert; a pastoral heart, showing empathy and good listening skills, the ability, willingness and experience to help us to develop and enjoy a variety of worship styles, including a wider range of musical worship and a deeper corporate prayer life -whilst recognising and valuing our heritage;   For further information and to apply, please click the 'apply for this job' button below.   For an informal conversation with the Archdeacon of Croydon, please contact the Archdeacon’s PA Kathleen.bailey@southwark.anglican.org to arrange a time for a phone conversation.   Closing Date: Sunday 12 June 2022 Parish Visit for shortlisted candidates: Monday 11 July 2022 Interviews: Monday 11 July 2022   Please note we have a policy in Southwark Diocese that to be appointed to an incumbent status post, a priest must have served a title in an Anglican church in the British Isles.   This post is subject to DBS enhanced disclosure

Forthcoming Events

24 May 2022
Disability and Church: Intersectionality
A joint webinar from HeartEdge and Church Times.

2 July 2022
Bringing Down the Mighty: Church, Theology and Structural Injustice
With Anthony Reddie, Azariah France-Williams, Mariama Ifode-Blease, Luke Larner, Will Moore, Stewart Rapley and Victoria Turner.

More events

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)