Category Archives: Lost Burial Grounds

Discovery of an ancient cemetery in St. Martin’s le Grand

From The Times, 25th September 1818.

As the workmen employed in clearing away the ground in St. Martin's-le-Grand, which is to form the site of the new Post-office, were a day or two ago removing the foundations of the old houses which stood in the rear of St. Leonard's-Fester lane, they discovered the roofs of some ancient vaults. As soon as the rubbish on the particular spot was removed, three vaults were discovered, each communicating with the other by a narrow passage or gallery; they are built chiefly of large square bricks, intermixed with stone and some flint, and the interstices filled with a yellow chalky earth. They are rather spacious, the height being nearly nine feet, the depth about eighteen and the breadth about six or seven. They appear to have been each originally divided into two compartments. In the back of one of the vaults was found a large quantity of human bones, thrown promiscuously together, as if collected from different graves. In one of them is a stone coffin, rather short in length, made in the shape of the ancient coffins, square in the head, and inclining in a tapering form towards the feet; a place is rather rudely shaped for the head of the body to rest upon, and the remains of a skull and some decayed bones are in the cavity. Adjoining, and in the same line with these arches, is a vaulted roof, supported by small and short stone shafts or pillars, from which spring semicircular arches, intersecting each other at equidistant points, and presenting to the eye the skeleton of a structure, at once simple, durable and beautiful. The subdivisions of the intercolumniation [sic] were evidently open when built, and so arranged as to admit a communication with other parts of a building. The floor of these vaults is about 29 feet below the pavement in Newgate-street, the loose ground on the same level bears all the appearance of having once been a cemetery, from the fragments and calcined parts of bones intermixed with soft earth which are observable in the vicinity. (more...)

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