The Candlelit Crypt

In the days leading to All Hallows Eve, I’m beginning a week of posts about pagan/occult/ghostly and otherwise-spiritual Greenwich. We’re out starting gentle today, with some atmosphere, courtesy of John – but expect some very odd stuff indeed…

I could have sworn I had a photo somewhere of the entrance to St Alfege’s crypt – wonderful looking doors that you can peer through and get some sort of idea about what lies below, but heaven only knows where it is on my computer, and still no chance of me taking any more for the moment.

The guys at St Alfeges opened up the crypt on the same weekend as Open House, but I confess I didn’t know about it, so I’ve never been down there myself. John, however, took the initiative to contact the warden, who agreed to take him and his brother on a special visit. Ask – and ye shall receive…

John was particularly keen to see the tomb of General Wolfe, which, given the glory in which our other great military/naval hero, Lord Nelson, is interred, is rather modest.

John forgot to bring a torch, so he had what must have been a much more thrilling experience – a tour by candlelight.

I can’t work out how old the crypt is – I suspect it doesn’t predate the current Hawksmoor building as it would have been a nightmare to build a new construction of a different shape and size to the original on old foundations – but Hawksmoor was a clever chap, and it’s possible he would have had instructions not to disturb the vaults, which included that of Thomas Tallis.

John didn’t mention that he saw either Tallis’s tomb or Greenwich’s favourite bad-girl-made-good, Lavinia Fenton, but it’s possible they’re down there too – I’m sure someone here can tell me if they’re still there.

I also don’t know how much the crypt was damaged in the war – it’s not specifically mentioned in the austerity pamphlet I have that was printed just after the war, which talks about the destruction.

I’ve just realised I don’t know much about this at all. Sorry, folks – but it does leave it all wide open for you lot to enlighten me. And if anyone has any nice pics of the entrance to the vaults…

2 Comments to “The Candlelit Crypt”

  1. Susan says:

    Well, I cannot tell you for sure that Thomas Tallis’ vault is still there, but I can tell you that when I went to the church in 2002, expressly to see Tallis’ tomb, someone was willing to bring me to see it. Unfortunately, I got cold feet when he told me it was a little treacherous getting there, and I still regret the decision to this day. It is interesting that I was doing a search for information on his tomb today, the same day you wrote your post. The topic came up on my own blog about a plaque that was placed in the crypt. Check out my blog http://wingchairtraveller and the comments from today’s Lovecraft post for more on this. Tallis is supposedly one of my ancestors. I really can’t believe this coincidence!

  2. Susan says:

    Well, it would be even more a coincidence if it wasn’t written in 2009! Sorry, my error.