17th September blog

Haunted Locations: Moving Coffins of Chase Vault, Christchurch, Barbados

The Christchurch Parish is a quiet church situated in Christchurch, Barbados. It has faced numerous tragedies that have resulted in church being repeatedly reconstructed for the last four hundred years.

The church was originally erected in 1629 however in exactly fifty years in 1669 the church was tragically destroyed by a flood which uprooted bodies from the grave and scattered remains all over the Dover Beach. The next church which was constructed was sadly destroyed in the hurricane of 1780 only to be replaced by the third consecutive construction which was surprisingly one again destroyed in the 1831 hurricane. The one after that was destroyed in fire in 1935 and the one succeeding this now stands as the fifth parish church to be built on the site.

One burial tomb on this site is known to be the pivot of one of Barbados most creepy and disturbing mysterious – moving coffins. The first account of such an incident occurring was written by James Edward Alexander in 1833 in his book, Transatlantic Sketches. Alexander states that between the period of 1807 and 1819 unexplained movement of the coffins occurred leaving locals perturbed and anguished. Despite being a sealed vault coffins would often have been moved from their original place and the remains of the bodies scattered everywhere. Moreover, after the movement had been discovered there was no trace of any footsteps or any forced entry within the vault.

The vault was acquired by the Chase Family (hence the name) and the first member of the Chase Family to be buried there was baby Mary Anne Marie Chase who died at the age of two on February 22, 1808.  Her small lead coffin was placed in the vault and the marble slab was put into place where it would remain for four years. In 1812 Mary Anne’s older sister, Dorcas, died under what some would say was strange circumstances.  It was rumored that the girl had been abused by her father, Colonel Thomas Chase, who had a reputation for being cruel and sadistic to his family and slaves.  Some say that Dorcas was unable to live with the abuse any longer and starved herself to death.  Her coffin was added to the vault.

There were many theories that attempted to explain these strange happenings. Many suggested that it was the work of the natural disasters that the church had been subjected to however this explanation was soon trashed as none of the other multiple vaults experienced even an iota of the same manifestation. Coffins of the chase family had been moved so strangely that it people were apprehensive in putting it down to natural disasters. Some coffins were found standing upright against the door whilst others with bodies hanging completely out of the coffin, others entirely overturned. The vault was eventually abandoned as a result of these happenings.


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