About two months ago, our village church was closed off as some major renovation work was beginning. It's such a beautiful church, but they have plans to make it more useable for the whole community. The plans include meeting rooms, audio-visual equipment, new chairs and a full redecoration once all the work has been completed.
So one of their first steps was to remove some of the flooring in the main church building. As they were taking it up, they discovered a vault in the centre of the floor containing a coffin. It turned out to be a small mausoleum with the coffin of a man named Alexander Pitcairn. No one knew that this existed, and the Farningham and Eynsford Local Historical Society got straight onto finding out as much as they could about this gentleman. As soon as I read about it, I was straight on Google trying to find out too! He does have a Wikipedia page which gave us information such as when he was born and what he did in life, and the fact that he did die in Eynsford. He was an English Cricketer who played for Hampshire and MCC. From other information found by the Historical Society connected him to the Pitcairn Islands in the South Pacific and his brother who found them in 1767, which was also the island that the mutineers from The Bounty went to.
So there is a lot of history about who he was and who is family was, but nothing that ties him to Eynsford in particular. There are no signs of any Pitcairns in the parish records, but I guess that he resided here after he retired from cricketing, but this still doesn't explain why he is buried in a vault under the floor of the church. This is usually for rich or important people from the village, so are we missing something from his life? And also, this mausoleum had been covered up completely, with no markings for people to know he was there. There are so many questions at the moment, and I hope that the people working on it can find out more soon.
A couple of weeks after finding the vault, they decided to open up the doors to the church on a Saturday morning so that members of the public could go in and see the mausoleum. Mike and I had been really interested in the story of this tomb, so we decided to get sown there early. I actually had to take Jack to a party, so didn't have a lot of time, but we got there early and were the first in line. A few of us gathered in the entrance of the church and Reverend Gary Owens said a prayer over the mausoleum. Then we had to put on hard hats, and in groups of about 6, get to go up to, and into the vault if we wished. I wasn't really keen on going down the steps into the vault, but jack went down with the help of a lady and had a good look. Here are a few pictures from our trip into the church.
It was really interesting to see it up close and to be part of this story in our village. I'll keep you posted if we learn anything new!