Monday, September 26, 2022

Something About Royal Vaults

Sounds better than a groin vault.

Watching the pomp and pageantry as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland said farewell to HM Queen Elizabeth II was fascinating.  I'd never seen such a thing and likely never will again.  Also, BBC World was easier to watch than queueing.

I first visited Windsor nearly 20 years ago and remembered walking some of the grounds and taking a peek at the King George VI Memorial Chapel, where the late King and Queen Mother were buried.  Now that their crypt has new occupants, I wondered what other royalty lies at rest at Windsor.  Sheldon Goodman's Cemetery Club blog helped answer my question:
I can't mention St. George's Chapel and Royal burial vaults without mentioning this.  The construction of a new vault sanctioned by the aforementioned George IV in 1813 led to the rediscovery of an old one by the South Quire Aisle which contained the remains of Jane Seymour, Henry VIII and Charles I. George, being a curious sort, when he was told of the discovery, dragged Royal physician Sir Henry Halford down into the depths to do some royal tomb-raiding, flaming torch and all.
George had a legitimate interest in trying to see where Charles I was buried as it was something of a question mark within the family, with Charles II trying – and failing – to see where it was exactly his father had been placed.  Down George and Henry went; seeing 4 coffins in total – an infant of Queen Anne was also here – and promptly opened up Charles' coffin to have a good old rummage, on April Fool's day.

Astonishingly, they found that he was dead. [Ed.: see picture.]

His skin was found to be discoloured, his nose had rotted away and the change in pressure caused one of Charles' eyes to pop all over the taphophilic monarch.  We know this from an account written by Henry, who neglected to mention that George took a couple of souvenirs before his coffin was soldered up again.
Seeing the name Charles I (not of How to Get Ahead in Advertising fame) caught my attention.  Lewis Barnavelt and Bertie Goodring supposedly find his crown out on the Barnavelt estate in rural England during The Vengenace of the Witch-Finder (1993).  Charles I is thought to have worn the crown last, after which it disappeared at the start of the British Interregnum and was presumed destroyed.

Whatever happened to it, it’s safe to assume you will not see it during the coronation of Charles III.

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