Church Monuments Society

Cricket St Thomas

Beneath the ledgerstone: Vaults and their contents



Online event

Although dynastic burial vaults occur from the sixteenth century onwards, most of the information on coffin types and format of funerary deposits come from the minor burial vaults of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This talk describes the history of the vault as a place of subterranean sepulture, their contents and what they can tell us about the funerary trade at the time of their deaths.

Main image above shows the Bridport Vault at Cricket St Thomas, Somerset with the coffin of Charlotte Mary Bridport, Duchess of Bronte (d.1873), the only surviving child and heiress of Viscount Horatio Nelson. Below, black and white images show coffins in the De La Warr Vault at Withyham, Sussex and colour image is of Dr Julian Litten at Kensal Green Cemetery.

Dr Julian Litten was on the curatorial staff of the Victoria and Albert Museum between 1966 and 1999, and Visiting Lecturer in Built Heritage Conservation at Canterbury Christ Church University College, Kent between 1999 and 2004. Described as “England’s foremost funerary historian”, he published The English Way of Death: The Common Funeral since 1450 in 1991: it has been reprinted on four occasions in revised editions. In 1994 he produced the introductory essay to The Funeral Effigies of Westminster Abbey (2nd, revised, ed. 2003), the introductory essay to Grave Concerns: Death and Burial in England 1700-1850 in 1998 and an essay in Arthur, The Forgotten Prince in 2009.

Event Information

This online talk is FREE to all and will take place on Zoom. Places must be booked via Eventbrite at This is one of a series of online talks delivered by the Church Monuments Society for the season of All Hallows, 2021.

Guidelines and handy Zoom hints

Before the event:

Guidelines and handy Zoom hints

Before the event:

• Please ensure you have already downloaded and installed Zoom to the device you wish to use. Read their guide if you are unsure about how to do this ( )

• Make sure you have registered via Eventbrite using your correct email address (or you will not receive the joining instructions).

• We will email the access link to you via Eventbrite shortly before the event begins.

• Please ensure that Eventbrite is on your safe-senders list and check your Spam/Junk inbox for our communications if you cannot see them.

During the webinar:

• Please remain muted throughout.

• The talk will last approximately 45 minutes and will be followed by questions.

• You are welcome to use the Chat box to contact panellists.

• Send formal questions for the speaker using the Q&A function so that they are easily identifiable. These can then be put to the speaker by one of our event coordinators.

• The session may be recorded by the Church Monuments Society. Screenshots and/or recording by participants is not permitted for copyright reasons.

• The host can remove attendees from the webinar.

• If you experience technical difficulties, contact panellists using the chat function. We will do our best to help.

• Enjoy the talk!

Image credits: Dr Julian Litten