Packed to the rafters

Charles Cowling

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One night in the early 1700s,  Henry Trigg was making his way home when he heard a disturbance in the churchyard. Looking closer, he saw, to his horror of course, grave-robbers making off with a freshly-buried corpse. 

He continued on his way, resolving never to let the same thing happen to him. (He isn’t reported to have tried to stop the outrage.) 

Having made a decent stash as a grocer he offered his fortune to any of his relatives who agreed to one condition: that his body be “decently laid … upon a floor in the roof.” 

In 1724 he died. His brother did as he asked, popped him, coffined, up in the rafters of the roof of his barn, and pocketed the cash. 

There he lay.

In 1774 the barn became part of the Old Castle Inn. He slumbered on. In 1831 a new landlord checked up on him and found him safe and sound. In 1906 East Hertfordshire Archaeological Society had a peek and found him still in residence. 

During the First World War, soldiers stationed in the town picked bits of him out. 

In 1999 the new owner, NatWest bank, had him decently buried. 

His coffin remains there to this day. No. 37 High Street, Stevenage.  

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gloria mundiCharles CowlingJonathan TaylorLucyAndrew Rush Recent comment authors

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gloria mundi
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Business opening there Jonathan – the Towers of Silence without the birds….

gloria mundi
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I’m never sure why we worry so much about what happens to our bones in the future. It might matter to those we leave behind, and to our descendants, if they have a strong connection with the family’s history. But us whilst we’re alive? And, even more so, after we’ve died?

I bet Henry ‘s barn was given a wide berth for a while, until the pong had died down, and as for a barn conversion to an inn – tricky pitch for any estate agent…

Jonathan Taylor
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Jonathan Taylor

I think that for some of us, Gloriamundi, while we’re alive there’s an irrational but real reassurance in fantasizing about our place in the world when we’re dead; planning our own funeral, for instance, gives us a sense that we’ll know what they’re all up to round our coffin, and allows us an illusion meanwhile of control. Or something. I suspect that after we’ve died, however, the idea of what’s happening to that old body we used to trudge around in will be about as engaging as wondering about the fate of that old car we scrapped thirty years ago.… Read more »

Lucy
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What a shame Natwest buried him….surely he should have been allowed to stay?

Andrew Rush
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Andrew Rush

This is why I don’t think that I will choose a burial for myself.

Whatever you do or say, and however long you rest before it happens, at some point someone will ignore your wishes or you will just get randomly dug up in the name of “research” or “archaeology” or “building a housing estate”.