StephenCryptLast weekend, Stephen, pictured, kindly showed us around the crypt which lies underneath Holy Trinity church.  The crypt is a massive space comprising several vaulted chambers each the length of the church and extending right out to the railings on either side.  It's quite spooky!







There are many coffins in the crypt, of all shapes and sizes.  Several are protected with chains or iron bars, which, as Stephen explained, was to guard against the attention of grave robbers.  In the early 19th century as medical science began to flourish, there were insufficient cadavers available to meet the needs of anatomy schools and this led to a grisly trade in grave robbing or body snatching.

Coffins Chains

Coffins Bars

 Charles MasonthorpePlaque on coffin inscribed: "Mr Charles Mason Sharpe died 30th August 1849 in his 36th year."


During the first world war the crypt was used as a shelter from air raids for up to 2000 people at a time, as a plaque on the front of the church attests: "In the midst of peril, we came to no harm".  Apparently, there's even a secret tunnel linking the crypt to Westminster!


Later Addition

Sue from Richmond Avenue has contacted us with these delightful memories of the crypt, a nearby youth club and life as a child in the area from years ago:

"These are my memories.  I went down the crypt twice with some friends and the vicar. The entrance was on the left hand side from Stonefield Street.  We went down some stairs and there were stone coffins. You can imagine as 6,7 year olds we were fascinated.  As for the youth club that was held in what is now the Montessori nursery in Richmond Avenue.  I am not sure whether Holy Trinity Church ran it or not, but it was run by nuns and monks.  Funnily enough that is what the local kids of the area named our gang.  We would go every Sunday and pay about 10p.  For that we played games, mostly football, and after the nuns would read from text from the bible and after that we would get orange juice and biscuits.  We all did this for around 2 years.  At the same time there was a English school run on Sunday for Chinese children in what was known as the Samuel Rhodes school.  When it was all finished we would play a football match with them.  It was quite funny we thought that every Chinese person knew karate because of Bruce Lee and they would do the karate kicks and we believed them.  This also went on every Sunday for around 2 years."


Intriguing stuff!  Does anyone else have memories of this time or know more about the history of youth club which Sue attended?  The building, Beckett House, is still there just next to Dowry St behind the new schools, but I can't find anything online about its history.  Can anyone help?  Here's a picture from Google Maps.

Beckett House 




#1 Nick Collin 2018-11-08 15:18
Thanks Jennifer for correctly identifying the name on the coffin - Charles Mason Sharpe, not Charles Masonthorpe as I had it!