VII Churches, Graveyards & a Ghost

Britain is full of churches; from the great cathedrals of the county towns to the smallest of parish churches.

The church, which for centuries has been at the centre of village-life, is often a treasure house of history and tradition, with its parish records , its bells, its stained glass windows and the memorial brasses set in its flagstones.

Duddingston Kirk in Edinburgh has a graveyard with particularly macabre associations.

This was the haunt of Burke and Hare, the Edinburgh body-snatchers .

To avoid bodies being dug up and used for medical research the parishioners built a watchtower to make sure that no one interfered with the graves.

A church with strong literary associations is Holy Trinity at Stratford-upon-Avon.

This is the burial place of William Shakespeare.

He too seems to have been worried by the thought that his body might be dug up.

The verse on his tomb puts a curse on anyone attempting to do so .

Which brings us to our ghost-story.

In the 1600s there was a man in Somerset, called Theophilis Bloom, who, for reasons of his own , requested that whilst his body should be buried in the village churchyard, his head should be cut off and places in a cupboard in the adjoining farmhouse.

Over the years a number of attempts have been made to reunite the head with the body.

But on each occasion something sinister has occurred .

And the head has never been buried.

Now, a toothless skull it remains in its cupboard where it looks as though it will stay.