‘Foolish tales’ link to church skeletons mystery
Research into the mystery surrounding two skeletons, one male and one female, on an ancient brass plaque in St Edmund’s Church, Sedgefield, has thrown up yet another mystery.
Investigators have unearthed a document dating back to 1823 which states that the skeletons plaque gave rise to “foolish tales of vergers and sextons”. Nowhere, however, is there any indication of what the ‘foolish tales’ were all about.
Churchwarden Brian Mutch (pictured) found the old document, a history of the parish of Sedgefield, in an old cabinet in the church vestry.
He said this week: “It would be most interesting to find out more about these tales. We are quite intrigued.”
The history identifies the skeletons as brasses of the Hoton family of Hardwick whose remains were interred in the north transept along with those of the Freville family when it was the chantry of St Catherine. (The north transept was created in the 14th century and it is believed these families probably paid for it to be built and explains why they were buried there).
The author of the history maintains that representations of skeletons are ‘by no means uncommon’ and adds: “The least degree of reflection would have shown that the figure alluded to which has created an unnecessary perplexity with several curious persons and given rise to foolish tales of vergers and sextons was nothing more than a striking exemplification of the change of condition made by death”.
The brass now hangs on the north aisle wall at St Edmund’s and is a popular talking point with visitors.
Mr Mutch says that research to learn more about the ‘foolish tales’ will continue as part of a diocesan ‘Inspired Futures’ project to establish a local heritage centre in the south transept of St Edmund’s.
Skeletons Mystery At Sedgefield Church (9th Feb 2018)
Article courtesy of Ron Eyley
Page added 6th September 2018