Bridgwater St Mary's Church Two Early English grave slabs
In the south aisle of the church there are two ornate tomb recesses. These
are Victorian, evidently constructed during the re-ordering supervised by
Brakspear in 1850-54.
Within the easternmost recess there is a shallow stone coffin, with finely
ashlared sides, covered by a lias lid bearing a foliate head to a worn
staff, possibly in the shape of a cross. This tomb rests on a course of
bricks. It appears out of sensible context.
Lying loosely placed upon the lid of the stone coffin is a small
well-incised slab of considerable delicacy and in good condition.
Dimensions: 8in at base, 32.5in along centre line, 12in at head Click on the image for a larger one
Within the westernmost recess there has been lain a larger single slab resting directly on the floor (but not within it).
Dimensions: 14in at base, 46.5in across centre line, 21in at head
Documentary evidence suggests that the slabs were once lying unattached in the Early English tomb recesses in the north aisle. These are now occupied by column radiators.
Rev A H Powell The Ancient Borough of Bridgwater, 1907 Bridgwater:Page& Son p111
On the north side of the nave, towards the west, are two quite old recesses covering the tombs
of some great ones whose very names are now utterly lost. The lines of the canopies and the
cusps suggest very early work indeed. Lying loosely within these recesses are two beautiful
Early English stone grave-slabs, quaintly carved in great simplicity. with two outlines forming
together the figure of a cross. Within the nave on the south side opposite are two modern
recesses cut in the wall, which need no notice.
The stone coffin is a strange relic. There is a reference to the finding of a stone coffin within the precinct of St John's Hospital at Eastover.
Parker, G The Ancient History of Bridgwater 1877 Bridgwater: E T Page p 10 Footnote (h)
The site of St John's Hospital was at the end of Eastover, and in digging for the foundations of a
house near the present Queen's Head Inn some years ago was found a stone coffin. [Repeated on
Jarman, SG A history of Bridgwater 1889 London: Stock p21
At the time of the formation of the Bristol & Exeter1 (now merged into the Great Western)
Railway, a few high mounds marked the site of the hospital, and in the course of building
operations in that neighbourhood many interesting "finds" were brought to light, includings
numbers of human bones, military weapons, a stone coffin, and a variety of other relics.