Crypt of St Leonards, Hythe

architecture, art, B&W, History, photography, Travel, Uncategorized

The crypt at St Leonard’s is a very mysterious place, over 2,000 skulls on display either shelved or as part of a giant pile of skulls and thigh bones. No-one has been able to confirm exactly when the bones were first displayed in this manner of even why. However, what is known from recorded history is that the skulls have been on show for at least the last 400 years!

A bird nesting in one of the skulls. Luckily after death!
Nesting

This pile is made up of around 1,000 skulls and 8,000 thigh bones. Theory suggests that the bones were put on display to travelling Pilgrims from the close proximity to the port town of Dover. A macabre shrine / tourist attraction on the way to Cantebury.
Pile of bones

This poor fellow died of a sword wound; interestingly you can see how the skull has tried to heal leading to the growth in the around the wound.
Sword wound!

Some of these skulls are over 700 years old. It has been assumed that these were mostly found in unmarked graves from the church graveyard, which due to space restrictions did not have gravestones. It was a common occurrence to find skeletons whilst digging a new grave. Why not put it on display?!
Over 700 years old!

A example of a bone tumour – not necessarily the cause of death.
Bone Tumour

Skulls

It’s a good job the rest of the church isn’t so dreary!
St Leonards, Hythe

Credit to Jack F Barker for producing a guidebook explaining the small amount that is actually known about the crypt.

As one of only two ossuaries in the UK I highly recommend a visit: http://www.stleonardschurchhythekent.org/thecrypt.html.

 

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