News:
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Author Topic: Bodies found on the seashore  (Read 3219 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline CAT

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 132
  • Appreciation 12
Re: Bodies found on the seashore
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2016, 08:41:53 »
In essence what you say regarding charnel houses/ossuary is correct, though during my time of removing numerous burials in churches and churchyards, ranging from the Saxon through to the late post-medieval periods, unless the person buried was of note, or the body was required for extra-burial activities (family wanted them moved or other religious ceremonial purposes), very few graves in churchyard were disturbed on purpose. However, due to the high mortality rate in these earlier times and the general lack of funds available to a grieving family very few churchyard burials possessed a marker, with a wooden cross being used at best. This meant that after only a short period of time in the ground any maker over a grave would have rotted or have been moved and the exact position of the burial forgotten. This would mean that when the next interment was to be made, either an associated family member or not, the earlier grave would have been encountered during excavation and any large bones (skull, leg, arms etc..) would either be reinterred with the latest burial or be stored in a charnel house/ossuary until sufficient number had been collected to require a new 'grave' to be cut. These 'buried' bone collections are usually referred to as charnel pits and consist mainly of the large bones and very little smaller ones, which are usually left in the general churchyard soil near the original point of burial.
The earlier reference by Longpockets to Hythe church is also interesting as these are erroneously thought to have come from some long ago battlefield, but in fact are more likely to be associated with the excavation of the vaulted chamber they are kept in being cut through an existing portion of churchyard. This of course is not just a charnel house/ossuary, which it has later become, but an ambulatory (passaged walkway for the ceremonial parade of the clergy with a doorway at either end) due to the eastern limits of the churchyard, following the lengthening of the church, this ceremony was not possible to circumnavigate the eastern end of the chancel so a passage beneath was created.     
In regards to numbers of burials within a churchyard. A modest estimate in a rural parish churchyard, which has been used for Christian worship since the Norman conquest (roughly a 1000 years), would be between 5-12 thousand burials (roughly 5-12 a year). More heavily populated areas can easily see more, though within towns these numbers would remain similar due to the higher number of churches covering a smaller, but more densely populated area. There is also a mention of a charnel house/ossuary being encountered beneath the floor at the western end of St Eanswythe's Church, Folkestone in the early-mid nineteenth-century, though its exact location is now lost.       

Offline Maid of Kent

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 142
  • Appreciation 11
Re: Bodies found on the seashore
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2016, 15:57:51 »
The practice of storing bones in a Charnel House (old french for burial) was quite common in ancient times (possibly up to Tudor and perhaps beyond) both here and on the continent were they are often referred to as an Ossuary (late Latin), especially were the grave yards were full and space for expansion was not available. When digging a new grave often the previous occupants were unearthed and because it had been a consecrated burial, the bones required respect. They were generally sorted according to parts found, eg. all sculls stacked together, femurs, etc. You used to be able to see examples of this in the Catacombs of Rome. These houses were often found in church yards where the church was very ancient but many don't have them now has it probably began to 'upset' the sensibilities of our later forbears and they were removed. In fact when I paid a visit to Cliffe almost exactly 10 years ago (to pay respect to my Tudor ancestors buried there somewhere) I was very surprised to see it and in such a good state of repair.

Offline Alastair

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 388
  • Appreciation 13
Re: Bodies found on the seashore
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2016, 14:56:39 »
Never gone into it before - I'd always taken it that charnel implied cremation but Longpockets is absolutely right, it was a sort of primitive morgue but for bones rather than entire bodies.
I know from Deal records that bodies were regularly dug up and reburied and bodies buried on top of others of a different family. If a family had a vault it appeared to be fair game to put anyone in there. Obviously space was at a premium. The amount of burials recorded at St George's in Deal was far more than would physically fit into the churchyard if people were buried 2 to a grave.
There was a Stranger's Churchyard in Deal, now built on, to the great consternation of the house owners. In it were buried people that had drowned and anyone else (Strangers) where the denomination was not known. No Charnel House in either Worth or Deal that I know of but I'm happy to be corrected on that.

Alastair

Online mikeb

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 522
  • Appreciation 27
Re: Bodies found on the seashore
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2016, 14:12:22 »
I have read somewhere, but of course cannot now find it, that the prime purpose of the Cliffe Charnel House was to hold bodies for burial until released by the coroner for burial. Presumably this only applied to persons unknown in the village. Of course charnelling as described by Longpockets may also have taken place here. The attached photo shows the house and, in the background, can just be seen the marshes & River Thames roughly 1.5 miles distant.

Offline Longpockets

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 223
  • Appreciation 12
Re: Bodies found on the seashore
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2016, 19:10:30 »
There was also a C(S)harnal house in the grounds.

Charnelling, which is the collection, storage and curation of disinterred bones from graveyards. This was sometimes practiced as a way to use grave yard space to its fullest potential. Once a body had been in the ground for period of time it was exhumed and the bones stored in a Charnel house and the grave space reused. Monasteries practiced this. Check out St Leonards at Hythe, some of those there, but this was due to grave yard space being used to extend the Church.

Offline CDP

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 828
  • Appreciation 86
    • SHEERNESS/SHEPPEY/PENNEY
Re: Bodies found on the seashore
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2016, 17:01:11 »
 
From Eastchurch church records .
1771  AT EASTCHURCH -   BURIED A MAN FROM THE BEACH, UNKNOWN.  HE IS THE FIRST
     DROWNED CORPSE TO BE BURIED IN THE CHURCHYARD. ALL PREVIOUS BODIES WERE
     BURIED ON THE SHORE WHERE THEY WERE FOUND.
       This may be the solution to a different problem>>>>>>>>>>>>    HOW DOES THIS AFFECT THE THEORY
     OF GREY DOLPHIN AS LORD CHEYNEY REFUSED TO ALLOW A BODY TO BE BURIED IN THE
     CHURCH AS ACCORDING TO THIS REPORT, FROM THE CHURCH RECORDS, THEY NEVER
     WERE!!!         
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=18910.msg166171#msg166171
The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

Offline Alastair

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 388
  • Appreciation 13
Re: Bodies found on the seashore
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2016, 15:14:37 »
Thank you Ann. I wonder if that meant the bodies were cremated rather than buried to save space?

Alastair

Offline ann

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 420
  • Appreciation 50
Re: Bodies found on the seashore
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2016, 12:37:51 »
I recall visiting Cliffe church many years ago and seeing the old C(S)harnal cart there. I was told it was used to carry the bodies washed up on the shores there.  There was also a C(S)harnal house in the grounds.

Offline Alastair

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 388
  • Appreciation 13
Re: Bodies found on the seashore
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2016, 12:25:03 »
Thank you filmer for pointing out the obvious discrepancy in my maths.
Indeed the bodies could have come across from Europe as Longpockets says and the weather may have had something to do with it. Interesting attachment, conan.
If I have read this right, mikeb, there were 7 natural burials and 55 from the sea at Cliffe. That's an extremely high proportion. Possibly some were burials at sea that weren't properly weighted down - we'll never know but it does go to show the amount of people lost at sea in those days compared with today.

Alastair

Online mikeb

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 522
  • Appreciation 27
Re: Bodies found on the seashore
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2016, 10:53:51 »
Co-incidentally, for Family History reasons, I have been searching through the registers of Cliffe and also noted the high number of "found drowned" burials.
For the same period commented on by Alastair, I found 41 un-named male burials, 1 un-named female burial, and 13 named male burials, a total of 55.
Only one gives details of the vessel from which the seaman came from and that was USS Chicago in 1894.
Given that Cliffe is on the southern bank of the Thames, and down stream from London, not all these fatalities are necessarily of seamen.
During the same period 5 male and 2 female bodies of unknown name were buried which had not drowned.
 

Offline conan

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 994
  • Appreciation 74
Re: Bodies found on the seashore
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2016, 00:02:39 »
I wonder if the weather had anything to do with this

http://www.pascalbonenfant.com/18c/weather.html
To remain ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain a child......Cicero

Offline Longpockets

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 223
  • Appreciation 12
Re: Bodies found on the seashore
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2016, 19:46:01 »
In an attempt to try and explain the numbers.

There is a good possibility not only were bodies from the East Kent coast being washed up here but there could also have been casualties from off the French, Belgian and Dutch coast plus from the full width of the North Sea and also the English Channel. Plus not only KIA, but also those who may have fallen into the sea, not only at sea but from the shore as well, Merchant Seamen, fishermen etc. There was also anything from The Downs a safe anchorage and an area that would have a concentration of vessels, particularly during bad weather.

There are quite a few instances of deceased arriving on the North Kent beaches from events far north into the North Sea. They arrived quite regularly in Whitstable Harbour, hence Dead Mans Corner.

A study of prevailing currents and tides from someone with more nautical prowess than me might be useful.

Hope this helps.


Offline filmer01

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 159
  • Appreciation 9
Re: Bodies found on the seashore
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2016, 17:27:21 »

Overall, this averages out at almost one body a day

Really?
Illegitimus nil carborundum

Offline Alastair

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 388
  • Appreciation 13
Bodies found on the seashore
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2016, 14:51:52 »
I have finished transcribing the burials for Worth, in between Deal and Sandwich, and I was struck by the amount of bodies that were washed up on he shore there and, presumably, interred in Worth churchyard.
At the Deal churches there were a few washed up on the beach, but no more than would be expected given the amount of shipwrecks on the Goodwin Sands.
Between the years 1808 and 1907 there were a total of 93 bodies washed up on the seashore. From 1808 to 1816 there were 27, all described as 'Sailor' obviously a result of the Napolenic War but no indication of nationality.
The remaining 66 from 1817 to 1907 were described as 'Body found on the seashore' no indication of gender other than 3 that were descibed as 'Boys' and 2 as 'Women.'
Overall, this averages out at almost one body a day, which strikes me as a very high rate of seaborne deaths. There was a Coastguard Battery (No. 2) at Worth which meant that a close eye would be kept on the sea, but there was also a Coastguard Station at Deal which had remarkably fewer bodies washed up.
I'm not making a point, just remarking on a local peculiarity.

Alastair

 

BloQcs design by Bloc
SMF 2.0.11 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines