Church Monuments Society

vaults postponed

No Corpse, No Monument: Coffins for Vault Burial 1750-1900



Online event

An event forming part of the Church Monuments Society’s series of online lectures for the Season of All Hallows, 2022. Everybody welcome!

Most monuments commemorate an individual whose remains lie nearby. There were many recommendations as to how corpses destined for intramural burial should be cased, which gave rise to some interesting innovations on the part of the joiner and cabinet-maker whom, when liasing with a plumber and an upholsterer, were able to provide items suitable for any drawing room, let alone the tomb. This paper, relying heavily on extant examples of the funeral furnishing trade of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, amply portrays why some of the coffins provided cost almost as much as the monuments themselves.

Dr Julian Litten FSA 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 Autumn 2022.

JOINING INSTRUCTIONS: You should receive a link from Eventbrite two days before the event, two hours before the event, and just as the event begins. If you have not received the link, contact us via Eventbrite so we can try to resolve this.

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 Credit: Dr Julian Litten