St Leonard's Church

17. března 2007 v 21:43 |  Kosti v GB

The Church with the Bones

Underneath the chancel is an area which, although used for processions in the Middle Ages, today houses a world famous collection of human remains. Quite when and why the processions ceased and the bones were moved here is unknown. This may have happened in the early 13th century when the chancel was extended into the former churchyard area, although some believe it is more likely to have occurred during the 15th century.
The Ossuary
Within the crypt are the last mortal remains of some 4,000 men, women and children including around 2,000 skulls and 8,000 thigh bones.
Several theories exist in where they came from. The most persistent and curious legend is that they are the remains of Saxons who were killed in a battle fought somewhere between Hythe and Folkstone in C.AD456. Historians in the 18th century believed the bones may have originated from a different battle fought against Danes in AD843. This has led additional credence to the claim that St. Leonard's has origins dating from Saxon times. Indeed some of the remains may have originated from the Saxon graveyard on which the first foundations of the church were laid. Perhaps a safer explanation is simply that the churchyard became full in the late Middle Ages and, in line with practice of the times, the bones were dug up and stored so that ground could be re-used.
The main stack, which appears to contain the first bones placed here, is in the centre of the crypt. The skulls which now line the shelves were placed there in 1851 and in 1908. Look out also for fragments of medieval hair and the astonishingly good condition of the teeth. Although the latter are worn down from the consumption of coarse bread, there was little sugar in the medieval diet so our predecessors' teeth were less susceptible to decay.

Crypt opening hours:

May 1 to September 30 every year
Mornings 10.30 - 12 noon - Mondays to Saturdays only.
Afternoons 2.30 - 4pm - Mondays to Sundays inclusive.
Please note that actual dates will vary each year and care should therefore be taken to check the dates applicable before arrival. .
Adults - 50p Children under 14 - 10p
St Leonard's Church
Oak Walk
Hythe, Kent
CT21 5DN

zdroj: http://www.stleonardschurch.com

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