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A Watching Brief in Peldon Churchyard

Two group members, Denise Hardy and Don Goodman were asked to-do a watching brief adjacent to the Bullock Family vault in Peldon churchyard. The vault had collapsed and was being assessed for repair by a builder.

The object of the watching brief was to examine the backfill replaced at the time of building the vault and look for any finds of pottery etc. with special reference to any Saxon pottery  as evidence of an earlier Saxon church on the site, referred  to in the book A Short History of The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin Peldon by The Revd Anthony W. Gough, Dip. Th. (Rector of Peldon 1664-1971).  The Builders first objective was to locate the entrance of the vault, and we were to examine the spoil for finds. The entrance found was via a bricked up doorway to the East end of the vault. The doorway was then broken down to a depth of Approx 4 Feet, to enable the architect and builder to assess the damage and estimate the cost and method of repair.

Finds Within The Spoil Removed By Builder

A large percentage of Human bones, including two skulls, these to be re-intered by the Rector.

Also found, nails, decayed wood, iron coffin handle, broken masonry, floor tile, glass, and pottery sherds (two Roman).  No Saxon pottery was found.

Inside The Vault

When the vault was opened we were able to see three brick partitions running East/West. The partitions contained much rotted coffin material, and skeletons.

One coffin in the South partition of the vault had a highly decorated coffin plate on the lid, possibly made of Copper or Brass and maybe in the Rococo style.

The vault was flooded with approximately one foot of water above the remains, it was assumed this was due to the vault being below the water table or the ingress of rain water though the damaged brick work above.

Interred in the vault, according to the church records, were the Bullock family listed below and indicated on the church grave plan as no 67. 

Extract from Peldon  grave plan.

Extract from Peldon grave plan.


Our observations revealed from the large amount disarticulated bones and coffin material in the back fill around the vault that the builders had little or no respect for earlier burials in the vicinity of the new vault they were building.

Discussions are still taking place as to the best method of repair of the vault. (March 2013).


Grid Ref. PeldonChurch TL 9895 1677       Sketches: Carol Wheeldon & Don Goodman.

Site Code PC 10                                             Photographs: Don Goodman.

Sketches & Photographs

Sketch plan of Vault at Peldon

Sketch plan of Vault at Peldon

Sketch of coffin plate from Peldon

Sketch of coffin plate from Peldon

Collapsed vault in church yard at Peldon

Collapsed vault in church yard at Peldon

Broken down entrance at East end of vault in Peldon

Broken down entrance at East end of vault

Coffin plate from vault in Peldon

Coffin plate from vault in Peldon

Brickwork inside the vault at Peldon

Brickwork inside the vault at Peldon


This material was presented to the Friends of St Mary’s in the Parish of Winstred Hundred on 13th March 2013.

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