During recent work in the Parish Church to upgrade the heating system, the existence of a burial vault was revealed. The Parish Church was once the refectory of the monastic abbey, but following the dissolution of the monastery in 1538 became the church for the village. The vault is almost certainly post-dissolution and was discovered when floorboards in the Chancel were removed.
A drawing of 1834 suggests that access was gained via a trap-door and stairway beneath the present Chancel. It has been known that such a vault did exist as there is reference to one in burial plaques around the walls of the church.
The vault is situated in front of the ornate memorial to Mary (Moll) Do, who died in childbirth in 1651. She is most probably buried there. Likewise, Edward Kempe of Gins Farm whose death in 1605 is recorded by a brass plaque on the West Wall. His is the earliest memorial in the church. The shipbuilder Henry Adams who died in 1805 is, with his wife Ann, also buried there. The latest was in 1839.
In 1840 major alterations to the church took place and the access was sealed, to be covered by the font. Further changes in 1875, when the Chancel was enlarged and tiled with those of a monastic design, and the font removed to the rear of the church, probably saw the vault and trapdoor revealed for the final time.Article by Anthony Norris, photograph by Ralph Montagu