Church records document the tossed coffins in the French crypt in Stanton. Loud thuds were heard emanating from the crypt. When the vault was opened for an interment, large coffins, covered with lead, were found strewn about. One of the coffins, found on the fourth step of the stairs that led into the crypt was so heavy that it took eight men to put it in its resting place. People blamed grave robbers, but the lock to the crypt had not been tampered with.
The next case is that of the family of Colonel Thomas Chase in Christchurch, Barbados. Chase was financially well off. He was not well liked among the natives of the island. He was ill tempered and cruel to his slaves and family.
Mrs. Goddard, one of Chase’s relatives, was the first to be interred in the crypt in summer, 1807. Her coffin was made of lead and four strong men carried it to its resting place. Several months later, Chase’s daughter, Mary Anna died and was interred there. Dorcas, another of Chase’s daughters, died in July 1812. Her body was placed in the crypt. Nothing was out of order.
In August, Chase died. The people present when the crypt was opened were shocked. The coffins looked as if they had been tossed. Mary Anna’s coffin was resting diagonally in the opposite corner of the crypt from where it had been placed. They assumed that vandals had desecrated the crypt and restored the coffins to their proper place. Chase’s coffin was put on top of them. Someone spread sand on the floor to detect vandals.
There was another death in 1816 and the crypt was opened for interment. All four coffins had been strewn about. There were no footprints in the sand. A few weeks later, the body of Samuel, another family member was removed from its grave and re-interred in the crypt. The coffins had been strewn about, as before. There were no footprints in the sand.
The natives whispered about duppies, evil spirits. Rumors spread that the family dead did not want Chase sharing the crypt. It was said that Dorcas starved herself to death because Chase was so cruel to her. The rumors caused much anxiety and Lord Combermere, Barbados’ English governor want to end the matter.
In July, 1819, Thomasina Clarke, another Chase family member, died and was interred in the crypt. Again, the coffins had been strewn about and there were no footprints in the sand. Mrs. Combermere recorded this in her diary.
The crypt was thoroughly examined. There were no hidden passages. The walls and ceiling were sound and secure. The coffins were put in there proper places and sand was put on the floor. Many people witnessed this. New mortar was used to seal the crypt. The governor imprinted his seal on it and others added other marks.
Combermere ordered the crypt to be opened on April 18th, 1820. Hundreds of people came to witness this. The seal and other marks on the mortar were intact. He asked that the crypt be opened, but it would not move. Finally, the workers could move the slab wide enough to gain entrance.
The coffins had been strewn about again. One was on its end, blocking the entrance. A baby’s coffin had been tossed against a stone wall so violently that there was a deep gash in it. Another seemed to have been hurled down the stairs to the bottom of the crypt.
The Chase family removed the coffins for interment at another site. The crypt was sealed and was never, again, used.
In June of 1844, Mrs. Dalman, with her two children, drove a cart to visit her mother’s grave. She hitched her horse to a post in front of the Buxhoewden family chapel. When she returned to the cart, she saw the horse acting hysterically. It was lathered in sweat and had almost uprooted the post. She could not soothe the animal and summoned a vet who bled it. Finally, the horse calmed down. The vet thought the animal had been stung by a bee.
The same thing happened the following Sunday. Three horses had been tied to posts by the chapel. All three acted strangely and quivered. The same vet was consulted and offered the same explanation, a bee sting.
Villagers had heard rumbling sounds coming from the Buxhoewden family crypt underneath the chapel. The strange disturbances continued and there were rumors about the restless graves of the Buxhoewden family. Finally, the family heard about these rumors. The members considered this to be a lie to slander them. They told the authorities that they would open the crypt and have them present to witness this in order to end the rumors.
When the crypt was opened, the coffins were piled, one on top of the other in the middle of the crypt. The atmosphere in the crypt was ominous. The caskets were replaced on iron racks mounted on the walls.
The vault was locked, then sealed with lead to make it safe from future vandalism. Neither the Buxhoewdens nor the authorities could figure out how the coffins had been moved. They agreed to keep what they found in the crypt secret from the villagers.
One day, eleven horses were tied to the posts outside the chapel. Some of them fell down and refused to stand. Three of the animals died. Others ripped the reins from the posts and galloped away in a frenzied manner. The people present could feel eerie tremors emanating from the ground beneath the crypt.
The secret was out. The people who lost their horses joined forces with the villagers who feared the supernatural happenings. They gave a petition to the Consistory elders. One of the Buxhoewdens died while the elders were trying to figure out what to do.
When the door to the crypt was opened for interment, the coffins were found piled on top of each other in the middle of the crypt. There were mysterious marks on one of the larger ones. The coffins were replaced on the iron racks. The locks were changed and new lead was poured on them to seal them.
This was another secret that could not be kept. The villagers were afraid that something evil was on their island and pressed the Consistory to act immediately. The elders decide to investigate.
Baron De Guldenstubbe, Consistory President, accompanied by two members of the Buxhoewden family went to the crypt. The door was locked and the seals had not been tampered with. Another witness was summoned to watch the three men break the seals and unlock the doors. When they entered the crypt, they saw the coffins had been tossed about and some had been smashed open. There was no way someone could have tunneled through the walls. They were intact. There were no hidden openings. The corpses till wore their jewelry. No grave robber would have left the jewelry behind.
The bodies were put into new coffins. Ashes were sprinkled on the floor to reveal footprints. The crypt was, once more, locked and sealed. Workmen dug a 6 foot deep ditch around the crypt. Armed guards were posted at the entrance.
Three days later, the Baron and two Buxhoewden family members went to the crypt without giving advance notice. When they entered the crypt, they found the coffins standing on end. The ashes were not disturbed. They had no explanation and had fear of the unknown.
The only solution was to bury the bodies elsewhere and seal the crypt for the last time.
Since natural causes have been ruled out to account for these strange phenomena, perhaps the answer lies in entity agent poltergeist activity, the ability of the mind to affect matter. Poltergeists have been documented as being able to move heavy objects. According to survivalist theory, part of the human survives death of the physical body. This has been called the soul, spirit, entity and other names.
Carrington, Hereward and Nandor Fodor, Haunted People, 1968. New York: Signet Mystic Books. No ISBN.
Guiley, Rosemary Ellen, The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits. ISBN: 0-8160-2846-X.
Sleman, Tom, The Coffins are Restless Tonight. www.geocities.com/tom_sleman/coffins.html
Author: Jill Stefko, PhD