THE CHASE VAULT
LONGEST LIST OF THE LONGEST STUFF AT THE LONGEST DOMAIN NAME AT LONG
The story of the Chase Vault.
The Chase Vault is a
tomb that sits in the Christ Church Parish Cemetery in Barbados.
Although it is empty today, the Vault holds a story that will live
on for generations. The story is more famously known as “The Moving
Coffins of Barbados.”
The vault is made from coral and sits
in the ground. The Waldon family were the ones to build the tomb and
its first occupant is thought to be the Honourable James Elliott
Esq., who died on May 14, 1724, as indicated by a tombstone that
once sat at the tomb’s entrance. What happened to the coffin of
James Elliott is unknown, as the tomb had nothing in it when it was
opened for the burial of Mrs. Thomasina Goddard on July 31, 1807.
Mrs. Goddard was laid to rest in a wooden coffin and the entrance of
the tomb was sealed with a large slab of marble.
It wasn’t long after that burial that
the tomb was given over to the Chase family. They were very rich but
Colonel Thomas Chase had an extremely bad temper and was extremely
cruel to his family as well as his servants. The first Chase family
member to be buried in the tomb was Mary Anna Maria Chase, who was
two years old when she died. She was laid in a coffin made of lead
and her coffin was placed in the tomb on February 22, 1808. Four
years later, Mary’s older sister, Dorcas died. She was also placed
in a lead coffin and joined her sister in the tomb on July 6, 1812.
One short month later, the Colonel died and he was placed in a
wooden coffin that was placed inside one that was also made of lead.
Eight pallbearers carried the Colonel’s
coffin into the tomb and it was then that they noticed that the
other coffins were not where they had been placed. Mary’s coffin was
not only in the opposite corner but it had also been turned
upside-down. The coffins were returned to the positions that they
had been in. All of them were laid beside each other and Mary’s
coffin was placed on top of them. The tomb was once again sealed off
with a marble slab. Word got out of the mysterious moving coffins
and the blame was placed on the servants. It was thought that they
had done it to strike out against the Colonel’s cruelty.
On September 25, 1816, another Chase
was to be buried in the tomb. This time it was Master Samuel
Brewster Ames, who was only eleven months old at the time of his
death. When the tomb was opened, it was found again that the coffins
were displaced and unorganized. On November 17, 1816, the body of
Samuel Brewster was being moved from his original resting place in
St. Philip Cemetery to the Chase Vault. Reverend Thomas Orderson,
along with a magistrate, were there that day to oversee the
proceedings. Along with them were many people who were simply
anxious to see what would be found when the vault was opened.
This time, not only had the coffins
been moved but, they were in horrible shape. The coffin of Mrs.
Goddard looked badly beaten and was thrown apart. The Reverend
ordered an inspection of the tomb to check for cracks in the walls,
floor, and ceiling, along with any hidden entrances. None were found
and the vault appeared to be secure. Mrs. Goddard’s coffin was put
back together and the tomb was once again closed and secured with a
marble slab. There was more talk of placing the blame on the
servants but this did not seem likely as they stayed away from the
cemetery altogether, afraid that evil spirits resided there.
In 1819, the tomb was reopened once again to allow for the burial of
Miss Thomasina Clarke. Many people were on hand that day to see what
would be found, as the tomb was now a matter of interest for the
entire country. Again, the coffins were in disarray however Mrs.
Goddard’s coffin was still in the pile in which it was placed.
On April 18, 1820, Viscount Combermere
wanted to get to the truth of the vault. There were rumours that
noises could now be heard from inside and spirits were said to
encircle the tomb. Combermere gathered his secretary, the mayor,
eight servants, and several others to open the tomb. After having an
inspection of tomb’s exterior, he ordered the slab to be opened. A
noise was heard from inside and the crowd that had gathered fell
silent. Upon its opening, a horrible sight was found. The coffin of
Dorcas Chase was leaning against the door and the coffin of Mary
Anne Maria Chase had been thrown against the wall. It had been
thrown so harshly that a piece of it was actually missing. The other
coffins were thrown about in a reckless manner. The floor, which was
comprised of sand, showed no signs of anything happening at all.
It was after this that the Chase’s
decided to empty the tomb and bury the family members in separate
ceremonies. Today, the vault is empty and quiet but the rumours of
what exactly took place within those walls still remains a mystery.
The Chase Vault
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