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>Coffins that kept moving<

In the 18th century, the Walronds, a rich family of planters, built a rockhewn tomb at Christ Church, Barbados. It was sealed with a massive marble door - more a fortress than a tomb.
One family member to be interred there was Mrs Thomasina Goddard, in 1807. A year later the vault was taken over by the Chase family - also slaveowning planters - who purchased it to bury two daughters in 1808 and 1812.
When the tomb was opened again in 1812 to recieve the body of their father, Thomas Chase, the girls' lead coffins had been stood on end upside down. There was no sign of a break-in.
Nor was there in 1816, when the tomb was again opened for the body of a boy relative. But the Chase coffins had again been wildly disarranged.
That of Thomas, which had taken eight men to carry, was leaning upright against a wall of the vault.
By the time of the next funeral, eight weeks later, word of the strange tomb had got around and a huge crowd turned up for the ceremony. They were not disappointed. Although the tomb was sealed, the four Chase coffins inside were once more in disarray.
The Governor of Barbados, Lord Combermere, now took a hand. In 1819 he supervised the orderly restacking of the coffins and had seals put round the door slab. But the following year, after reports of noises, he visited the site again.
His seals were intact. But the lead coffins were in their customary jumbled confusion. Only the little crumbling, wooden coffin of Mrs Goddard still lay peacefully in its corner.
No explanation seemed to fit the case. Slaves could not have moved the coffins in revenge without leaving some trace. There was no trace of flooding. And earthquakes would hardly have shaken one tomb without disturbing others in the surrounding area.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, suggested that supernatural forces moved the coffins in protest at their lead construction, which prevented the speedy decay of the bodies inside. He thought these forces might have been strengthened by the fact that Thomas Chase and one of his daughters had committed suicide.
Whatever the reason, the moving coffins caused such mass concern all over Barbados that the tomb was emptied of all its occupants 150 years ago.
It remains empty to this day, except for the litter, blown in by the wind through the gaps in the bars of the door.

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