Builders discover the coffins of members of an 18th century family

Builders are stunned to discover the coffins of nine members of an 18th century family buried more than 200 years ago in a secret crypt beneath the steps to a country church

  •  Builders stumbled across two secret crypts containing nine 18th century coffins
  •  Coffins were found under the Grade I-listed St Helen’s Church in Etwall, Derbys
  •  The workmen made the discovery after noticing base of steps  were loose

Builders replacing steps at a historic church were stunned when they stumbled across two secret crypts containing nine 18th century coffins – containing members of a wealthy family. 

The lead coffins were found under the Grade I-listed St Helen’s Church in Etwall, Derbys after workmen noticed the base of steps they were replacing in the church grounds were loose.

When they removed some bricks, they unearthed the arches of a 6ft-deep secret vault.

Builders replacing steps at a historic church were stunned when they stumbled across two secret crypts containing nine 18th century coffins

Stonemason Daniel Sharpe, who made the discovery, said: ‘I was surprised that no-one knew it was there.

‘Obviously they knew people were buried here, but they didn’t realise where the vault was.

‘It stopped us working for a bit, so we were happy at that – we managed to get a tea break.’

Church warden Andrew Walley said the coffins contained the remains of the Cotton family who used to own Etwall Hall in the 18th and 19th centuries. 

One of the coffins was identified as Joseph Green who was born in 1737 and died in 1810.

‘He married one of the Cotton heiresses, Elizabeth Cotton, [and] the others are either the parents of Elizabeth Cotton or some of their children.’

The church now hopes to contact descendants of the Cotton family to find out more about their connections to the area.

Church warden Andrew Walley said the coffins contained the remains of the Cotton family who used to own Etwall Hall in the 18th and 19th centuries

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