Buried Archbishops of Canterbury
Church of England

Buried Archbishops “found by accident”? The CofE’s forgetfulness is galling

“It beggars belief that no-one thought what a terrible, terrible image of decline it is to deconsecrate the ABC’s home church,” tweeted the Rev’d Marcus Walker, slightly irritated by the ‘accidental discovery‘ of five buried Archbishops of Canterbury in a crypt at St Mary-at-Lambeth, which is now a garden museum. “Even in 1972 they should have been aware that the optics are dreadful,” he added with rising incredulity that the church which kisses the gatehouse of Lambeth Palace should ever have been deconsecrated and closed to Christian worship – even in 1972, when England’s sense of national identity and historic optics weren’t great.

StMaryLambethDid the Church of England not know that there were at least five archbishops buried there? Couldn’t someone be bothered to check the records? Why was no archeological dig commissioned? This wasn’t just any old parish church: St Mary-at-Lambeth had been an adjunct to Lambeth Palace for centuries. Its flint and stone walls are 14th-century; its consecrated ground dates back to Edward the Confessor. “Its bells rang out whenever royal personages came” – just read the detailed history to get a sense of how much of England’s ecclesial history was acted out within its walls.

“Several Archbishops of Canterbury are buried here”, notes Basil F L Clarke in his 1966 book Parish Churches of London, so it was hardly a secret. Nonetheless, the church was earmarked for demolition in those heady and enlightened 1970s, only reprieved by The Garden Museum – “capturing what gardens mean to people in a collaborative forum of activities, debate, collections and archives.”

What a pity that the Diocese of Southwark didn’t capture what the Archbishop of Canterbury’s home church might mean to people in a collaborative forum of ecclesial history. What a pity that Archbishop Michael Ramsay didn’t call a halt to a manifestly offensive deconsecration right on his doorstep, for five of his predecessors who had thought to find eternal rest in a sacred crypt now find themselves offensively buried in a secular vault on deconsecrated ground. A red and gold mitre resting on top of a coffin becomes a prophetic symbol of an inevitable future.

Still, we must at least give thanks that St Mary-at-Lambeth wasn’t bought by Pizza Hut, which the current occupant of Lambeth Palace would doubtless find a little more useful than living next door to a museum.

  • len

    To lose one Archbishop would be unfortunate, but to loose five is extraordinary carelesness.
    At least the RCC is more careful with its relics.

    • Anton

      “To lose one Archbishop would be unfortunate”

      Really?

      • carl jacobs

        Chef is having a bad influence on you.

        • Anton

          Depends how, too.

        • Anton

          You can post that reply yourself, as I’m not copyrighting it.

    • IanCad
      • Martin

        Amazing how much hair these people had.

        • Sarky

          Jealous?

          • Martin

            Sarky

            I have sufficient.

          • Sarky

            For a combover?

          • Martin

            Sarky

            Are you perhaps trying to find sympathy?

    • Royinsouthwest

      Didn’t someone say once that the Roman Catholic Church had enough pieces of the Cross to build Noah’s Ark?

      • len

        It always seem fultile to me to search for ‘relics’.Even if you found a piece of the ‘true cross’ (which seems highly unlikely) so what?.
        Its what happened on the Cross which is the issue , not the Cross itself.

        • Anton

          Quite. As daft as the notion of consecrated ground.

        • carl jacobs

          Men would worship it. See what they do with the Shroud of Turin and that’s a fake. Think what men would do with an actual relic.

  • vsscoles

    The appropriate response to such a discovery is for the “forgotten” archbishops to be reinterred in the cloister of Canterbury Cathedral. But they are now to form part of a tourist attraction.

  • jaundicedi

    It’s a wonderful peaceful place, the museum. I don’t think that the archbishops should mind posthumously sharing it with people coming off the street to contemplate the partnership of man and nature to create something beautiful. There is a section that brings mediaeval paintings of the Annunciation to life.

  • Inspector General

    Mmmm – Lead lined coffins, eh

    What marvellous places to secrete Easter eggs that the little one’s may seek and find…

    • Politically__Incorrect

      I’m not sure who’d be more interested in that idea Inspector; the National Trust or the NSPCC.

  • John

    What would Jesus say? ‘Let the dead bury their own dead. You go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’

    • Amen! When the Scottish missionary John Paton announced that he was going to preach the Gospel to the cannibalss of the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu), an elderly Christian exclaimed, “But the cannibals! You will surely be eaten by cannibals!”
      Paton reminded the gentleman that his immediate prospect was to die and be buried, and be eaten by worms. He continued, “If I can but live and die serving and honouring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by cannibals or worms; and in the Great day my resurrection body will arise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer.”

      • carl jacobs

        Strange, isn’t it, this obsession we have with preserving the corpse. It’s almost as if we are afraid that if the corpse disintegrates, then we might as well have never existed. The war against decomposition becomes the war against oblivion – a denial of our fundamental nature as dust.

        That observation doesn’t fit in with cremation, of course. But there is a unifying theme in there somewhere.

    • David

      Nice point !

  • dexey

    it is just a few dead people’s remains. Nothing to get fretful over, at all.

  • len

    Is it not rather ironic that at the time of Christ’s rising from the tomb that a tomb has been discovered full of dead men`s bones in the church?.
    Must be a moral there somewhere?.

  • Dolphinfish

    Seems to be a thing with the Church of England. They completely forgot Richard III was a Catholic when they buried him in Leicester Cathedral. I guess it’s that “it’s all good” outlook that Protestantism has given the world.

    • Anton

      It was simply a condition of the council’s permission to excavate that car park that if they found him then he would be entombed in Leicester Cathedral.

      • Not to worry. Leicester Cathedral was originally a Catholic Church, even if it is currently on loan to a rival organization.

        • Anton

          There are arguments worth having between Catholics and protestants, and others that are not; this is in the latter category.

  • Anton

    Can anybody explain what Marcus Walker means in context by “optics”, please?

    • Royinsouthwest

      I am baffled by that too.

      • Maalaistollo

        I thought that optics are those things behind the bar in pubs, with upside-down bottles installed in them but, having been brought up Chapel, what goes on in pubs is a bit of a mystery to me. Maybe the Inspector, who appears well acquainted with such venues, can confirm?

        • CliveM

          Having never frequented a bar in my life (ahem), I think your Inde is correct.

    • carl jacobs

      A few years back, an Air Force bomber accidentally flew across the country with a live nuclear weapon. (As an aside, somebody should have went to prison for that.) What is someone to think when observing this situation from the outside. “How can you lose track of a nuclear weapon? What else is going on that we should know about? Are you competent to carry this responsibility?” The “optics” were terrible. It reflects badly on the whole organization because it leads people to make obvious conclusions that aren’t necessarily true or fair, but are entirely reasonable.

    • David

      Quite. That one puzzled me as well. Does it mean ‘vision’, of one’s own nation ?

  • magnolia

    They are not there, they are Risen. At any rate we have a very “sure and certain hope” that they are.

  • “A red and gold mitre resting on top of a coffin becomes a prophetic symbol of an inevitable future.”

    A profound observation, Your Grace. A lack of respect for the bodies of the dead, whether a bishop or a peasant, and for our shared Christian heritage, is an indication of future trajectory.

    • Anton

      Not as bad as lack of respect for the living, foetuses in particular.

      • Agreed …. but Jack would say the two are connected. We live in a society that disposes of the living and the dead – a “throw away culture”.

        • carl jacobs

          Good comment Jack

        • Cressida de Nova

          All civilised people have respect for their dead.

          • len

            Some even have respect for the living.

    • CliveM

      Respect? They were correctly and reverently buried.

  • carl jacobs

    Surely they will move the coffins to a more appropriate location. Right?

    • Dominic Stockford

      Can’t. Lead coffins and what lies within them (and then bursts out) is beyond nasty.

      • carl jacobs

        But if they had been remembered when the church was deconsecrated, they would have been moved then. Why not now?

        • Dominic Stockford

          I wonder whether they would have been. What ever may now be claimed.

      • Anton

        A distant relative was Home Office pathologist for a large town. He saw – and extracted evidence admissible in court from – everything. Certainly the coffins can be moved.

        He retired just as DNA identification was beginning, and I got the distinct feeling from a conversation I had with him that he reckoned it was cheating!

  • Martin

    Of course, it could be commented that the Bible nowhere speaks of archbishops, or decrees where they should be buried. A great many great men of God are buried in unconsecrated ground. An example is Bunhill Fields, outside the city walls where John Bunyan is buried along with many other nonconformists.

    I really don’t see what the fuss is about.

    Oh, and it strikes me that they must have kept little boys well away, they always find the hidden spots.

    • Anton

      I’ve been to Bunhill Fields; some fine men are interred there.

      • chefofsinners

        I went there and trod in a cowpat. I was inturd.

        • Anton

          You probably missed Rev’d Bayes’ tomb.

  • Perhaps instead of using it to inter dead poets, many of whom were not even Christian, they could put dead Archbishops in Westminster Abbey? That is unlikely to be de-consecrated within the next 50 years or so.

    • Anton

      I salute your confidence that Archbishops of Canterbury are necessarily more Christian! Westminster Abbey is essentially full with royalty and great Englishmen; Canterbury Cathedral is clearly the right place. If Richard III can be reverently moved then so can these men.

    • Cressida de Nova

      Wicked ! LOL

    • Sarky

      Or a wetherspoons!

      • Dominic Stockford

        That would be a fantastic idea. We could then close all the subsidised cafes that the MPs and Lords get given, and tell them to pop over there instead. The place wouldn’t have had so many people there for the right reason for years….

    • Holger

      Westminster Abbey is a royal peculiar so the monarch, not the Church, decides who can be buried there.

      I’m told that only exceptional personages of national significance are entombed there.

      So that disqualifies pretty much every archbishop of Canterbury then, doesn’t it? Certainly the modern vintage. Vicar to a couple of old grannies hardly qualifies as a post of national significance, does it?

  • David

    Sticking my neck out here, I’ll venture that as we start a new phase in the life of the universal Church, it would be good if the regulars on Cranmer’s excellent website adopted a more positive, hopeful and, well, Christian, approach to items generally. Conservatism, politically and, or theologically, need not be gloomy or despondent. Far too many of us on here, including myself, seem to prefer scenarios of doom to hopeful ones. Yet Easter, just like the other major feast day, is essentially about hope, Christian hope.
    Just saying …….

    • Anton

      I am an apostle of the coming persecution as being God getting his son’s bride into shape for the wedding. Am I preaching doom or joy?

      • David

        That’s too simple, so pass, because I don’t wish to make personal judgments on you or anyone else, as we all need to improve.
        The trick is whatever we say, we should always be signalling, in some form, to Christ’s existing victory to which Easter was the witness, as well as faith in Christ’s ultimate future conquest. My point is, Believe, and project belief.

        • 1649again

          I’m with you David.

          • David

            Support gratefully received with thanks !

          • Anton

            I agree. (NB nothing I said above is incompatible with what you are saying.)

          • David

            Oh good !

      • Cressida de Nova

        Neither…just codswallop !

        • Anton

          1 Peter 4:17

      • len

        The Gospel is going out and some will receive it.Some will ridicule it (as Jesus Himself was ridiculed by many of the religious order)
        But the preaching of Gods Truth is the call that will light that spark in those who have the ears to hear.

        • David

          That’s the stuff !
          Get out there and share the good news !

          • len

            Right !. Lets go.

        • Cressida de Nova

          Yes and some may even have a correct understanding of the gospel…which you don’t.

          The bride of Christ is the established Church of Christ.There is only one true Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. The Catholic Church will prevail . This of course may be doom and gloom news for heretics

          • Royinsouthwest

            So you think God sent his son to establish an ecclesiastical bureaucracy? Any prophet would have sufficed for that.

          • Martin

            Cressida

            The Church is the assembly of those who Christ has saved. Rome left that Church long ago although some in that Church may still be under the tyranny of Rome.

          • len

            That old RCC mantra Cressida. it’ll never come true no matter how many timesIyou(and Jack) say it…
            The Bride of Christ is spotless’.
            ‘The Bride’ the RCC will present is a Harlot who sold herself out centuries ago

        • Anton

          For the avoidance of doubt, I am all for plucking as many brands from the burning as possible while the persecution that lies ahead comes closer and then reaches us.

    • len

      ‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.’ (Proverbs 13:12)

      Without hope we would indeed live a bleak and pitiful existence.But for Christians our hope is in Jesus Christ ,our faith is in God fulfilling his purposes for us and for all believers.

      Christians can look towards the outcome of Gods Plan for redemption , rather than the present circumstances.

      • David

        No problem with that, Len.
        So let’s bang that drum a little more often, and in the meanwhile attract new believers, and strengthen the faith of existing ones, be being positive, not gloomy !

    • carl jacobs

      “Positive”? “Hopeful”? What is this witchcraft?

      Behold, the glass is half-empty, cracked, leaking, and laced with poison.

      • CliveM

        Carl,

        For a American you have a very negative outlook on life. You don’t have French ancestry do you?

        • carl jacobs

          A very, very little, but it doesn’t count as French ancestry. They were Huguenots.

          • CliveM

            We have that in common then.

            Of course I’ve overcome the problem to be the cheery ‘pint half full’ individual that you see today!

          • David

            Good chaps, Huguenots.

          • carl jacobs

            One of my ancestors from that side of the family was an officer in the Continental Army. He reportedly fired the first shot at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

          • David

            None of us are perfect.

      • David

        “Positive ? Hopeful ? What is this witchcraft ?”
        No.
        Just an encouragement for us all to sound more, well encouraging.
        Is that too much to ask ?
        Did not the Wesley’s attract new disciples by being, err … positive, and hopeful ?
        Or is gloom mandatory for Calvinists ?

    • Paul Greenwood

      when you are crucified you will arise but you David are afraid of being crucified

      • David

        Hilarious arrogance.
        You know nothing about me !

    • chefofsinners

      What new phase?

      • David

        Pedantry.
        Focus on the message.

        • chefofsinners

          Thought I’d missed something. Is there a new phase or not?

          • David

            Explore your own rabbit hole.

          • chefofsinners

            Apparently there isn’t. But thank you for your positive, hopeful and Christian approach.

    • Pubcrawler

      Here’s a good example.

      • chefofsinners

        Good stuff. Robin Williams never made so much sense before.

        • Pubcrawler

          Well, once he’d got the Devil’s dandruff out of his system…

      • William Lewis

        What a simple and powerful testimony.

      • IanCad

        Thanks Crawly. Quite the most inspiring words from a man of God that I have heard.
        Persecution spreads the Gospel.

  • David

    Taking a different tack now, I think that there is much good in that the C of E does not overly fuss over dead dignitaries. It shows that Archbishops too are merely servants of Christ. I’d far prefer this forgetful, irreverence to placing too much store by the remains of their mortal, earthly existence, wouldn’t you ?

    • Maybe… but I can’t help but think that it’s a striking representation of the C of E’s willingness to cuts its historical anchor and go floating off wherever the tides of popular opinion take it.

      • David

        You are making the mistake of understanding the present by interpreting past actions, history, in terms of present concerns.
        When these coffins were “lost” the C of E was deeply traditional.
        The journey of parts of the C of E into liberalism is largely, a post-war phenomenon.

        • I wasn’t interpreting anything, which is why I called it a representation. An allegory even, just as Cranmer calls the mitre on the coffin ‘prophetic’. Not everything has to be so literal.

          • David

            So you said… nothing.
            That’s fine then, now we have it stated clearly.

          • Nuanced conversations aren’t your thing, I presume.

          • David

            Horses for courses. In lengthy tomes nuance may be appropriate, where the subject matter requires it, but blogs facilitate only short missives.

        • Anton

          The 18th century Church of England to which you refer was as much a captive of its times as today; witness its hostile reaction to its own ordained minister John Wesley, the greatest English Christian of the era.

          • Dominic Stockford

            I disagree. Whitefield was greater…..

          • Anton

            Happy to discuss the relative merits of great saints!

          • Dominic Stockford

            Arminianism?

          • Anton

            I refuse to take sides in debates on free will. It’s a paradox, and God gives us paradoxes to grow in the pondering of. It will never be resolved by one side proving the other wrong; there will always be a “Yes, but…”

          • Dominic Stockford

            By grace alone (god’s gift alone), not by choice. Always seemed simple to me. The dead in sin can do nothing. Lazarus is our example – he did nothing except stinketh.

          • Royinsouthwest

            If we do not have a choice then how can we be guilty of sin?

          • We can’t be ….

          • Predestination, God’s Foreknowledge and Sovereignty, and salvation through grace, doesn’t rule out the exercise of free will.

          • We shouldn’t be surprised that over the centuries, people have believed that they have free will. This was bound to happen.

          • *gasp*

            “John Wesley, the greatest English Christian of the era.”

            This from a Puritan!

    • Paul Greenwood

      Many people think of the Church in terms of Eternal and a last resting place. Families paid huge sums for a headstone to give some sense of existence. Even Shakespeare feared the charnel house. If the Church has no use for the dead it has no reason for the living.

      • Anton

        This is a subject change, but nobody, nobody, expressed human dread of death like Shakespeare.

        • Mike Stallard

          What about “the Seventh Seal” by Bergman?

          • Cressida de Nova

            Not English…does not count !

          • Anton

            Bergman is a bit too, simply, weird for me as a director. His insight into humanity is obvious, though. Have you seen the film he wrote, but did not direct, The Best Intentions? It is about the complex courtship and early unhappy years of marriage between a spirited girl from a wealthy family and an austere young Lutheran pastor. It was inspired by the tale of his parents, and I know of no other film in which I feel I know the characters personally.

            Hard not to chuckle from 9:20 of this, though:

          • Cressida de Nova

            It was a truly excellent film…a masterpiece. It portrayed the bleak gloomy lives and suffering under the yoke of Lutherism. If you relate to those characters so well why would you choose the Protestant Puritan form of faith?There is no joy there. (Shudder)
            You should have a serious rethink about Christianity. You have made a mistake. Even you make them, Anton. I have that movie somewhere . I will watch it again.

          • Anton

            It’s above all a portrait of a relationship. You will sadly find characters such as Henrik in every church, yours not excepted.

            The winners from 1660 onwards have written the history about the Puritans. I’ll put it succinctly by saying that they drank but didn’t get drunk.

            Let’s return to a point of agreement… Best Intentions is superlative. Three hours pass with no sense of time, even at the leisurely pace it runs. Five hours pass equally timelessly if you can get hold of the TV version from which it was cut down. That has never been released on DVD with English subtitles, but it has been shown on TV and I captured it.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Deep insights do not prevent people from making mistakes. There are other reasons. The human being is such a complicated Interesting terrifying species. I find it remarkable that we even still function in relative harmony together on the planet. Christianity is responsible for this.
            As a former atheist raised in a secular environment, what inspired you to become a Christian? Just curious.

          • In Jack’s experience, creative people are frequently tormented by their deep insights into their own nature and human nature.

          • Anton

            Going through a hard time, friends who were lifelong Christians, the realisation that help was there, and an experience (utterly unsolicited) of the supernatural forces of darkness, which convinced me to align with supernatural forces of good.

          • Cressida de Nova

            We do not share a lot of religious beliefs but I am pleased you had those Christian friends to help you.Not everyone is that lucky so you are blessed.When I am at Church next I will light a candle for you to give thanks .,… you know, one of those medieval idolatrous pagan traditional practices that wicked Catholics indulge in:)

          • Anton

            On the contrary, we share faith in Jesus Christ! (Re your first sentence.) I am glad of that, and grateful for your intentions. If you are willing, please include a prayer to God the Father, through Jesus Christ the son, for my faith. My faith is not in doubt but I am always very glad of prayer that it be stronger.

        • Cressida de Nova

          Where is your evidence?
          Acts and verse numbers?
          Who does this sound like?

          • Anton

            Someone asking for more detail.

            Hamlet: Alas, poor Yorick…

            Macbeth: Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow…

            Measure for Measure (Claudio):

            Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
            To lie in cold obstruction and to rot;
            This sensible warm motion to become
            A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
            To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
            In thrilling region of thick-ribbed ice;
            To be imprison’d in the viewless winds,
            And blown with restless violence round about
            The pendent world; or to be worse than worst
            Of those that lawless and incertain thought
            Imagine howling: ’tis too horrible!
            The weariest and most loathed worldly life
            That age, ache, penury and imprisonment
            Can lay on nature is a paradise
            To what we fear of death.

            Will that do?

          • Cressida de Nova

            Sigh! Our (Catholic) Shakespeare was a genius. His use of language flows like music. Thank you Anton. Do you play the lute as well? 🙂

          • Anton

            Catholic? Outstandingly odd then that he did not adapt a single Bible story or saint’s life to the stage, as his Catholic predecessors did many times in the mystery and miracle plays.

            Odd too that he never used the Bible for dramatic material if he was a committed protestant. The deepest critics (Simon Schama, Kenneth Clark) understand that whether Shakespeare was Catholic or protestant he was a purely nominal believer. Despite Christ’s Resurrection, Hamlet describes death as the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Not odd at all. It was illegal to be a Catholic in England at that time and everyone had to embrace the new heresy. He was not going to adapt a religious tale to the Protestant heresy. At some stage I think he was accused of being a Catholic sympathiser , so he had to be very cautious. Hamlet means no traveller returns to earth. The undiscovered country is the afterlife. None of us here knows what it will be like (except you of course)

          • Anton

            Given that I’m convinced Shakespeare was a nominal believer in Christ, I don’t care very much whether he was a nominal protestant or a nominal Catholic. Don’t you think it extraordinary that the greatest playwright, in a land in which the Christian faith in various forms was ubiquitous, didn’t adapt the gospels or pick up a single tale or character from the kaleidoscope that is the Old Testament? That Elizabethan England outlawed Catholicism would explain only why he didn’t pick up on any saints’ lives.

          • “Given that I’m convinced Shakespeare was a nominal believer in Christ … “
            Evidence? You’ll cause His Grace’s ashes to heat up … again.

          • Anton

            Evidence? Can’t you be bothered to scan the thread? Five posts above, at the time of posting this one, I wrote:

            The deepest critics (Simon Schama, Kenneth Clark) understand that whether Shakespeare was Catholic or protestant he was a purely nominal believer. In the face of Christ’s Resurrection, Hamlet describes death as “the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns.”

          • That’s second hand hearsay. And the quote hardly supports it. Any actual evidence from his writings?

          • Anton

            I gave that evidence elsewhere on the thread… The defining event without which Christian faith would be in vain is the return from the dead of Jesus Christ. Yet Shakespeare has Hamlet call death “the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns.” Now, if the play were about a loss of faith by Hamlet then his denial of the Resurrection would simply be part of the plot. But it is not. Christianity is a mere backdrop to the play, and has no significant part in it. No priest or bishop ever appears, and Hamlet agonises over only one thing: how to deal with his evil uncle.

            Then there is the total absence from Shakespeare’s canon of any tale from the Old Testament, which is ideal dramatic material. Instead, he sets his plays in English history or in a dream-like Renaissance Italy or in classical Greece or Rome. That is in total contrast to the Catholic theatre that existed before his time which was about nothing but Christianity: the mystery play cycles, and the miracle plays about the lives of various saints.

          • It’s a well developed thesis that Shakespeare was a Catholic at a time when it was a crime punishable by the State.

          • Anton

            This seems to me to be about as plausible as 1960s Soviet claims that Russians invented all of the sports played in capitalist countries, and concocted for the same underlying reason; but frankly, my dear Jack, I don’t give a damn. See below for what I do believe with a passion, that Shakespeare was a nominal believer in Christ whatever denomination she was.

          • “Do you play the lute as well?”
            Naughty …. Funny, but very naughty.

          • Anton

            I’m still not sure what is meant, but it’s better than playing the lyre.

      • David

        Irrelevant.

        • Dominic Stockford

          Quite – the church is for the living. The dead are either with God or not, and there’s nothing we can now do about that.

          • David

            Yes, it is a comment based upon sentiment, not the faith.

        • Paul Greenwood

          so ignore the tombs of former archbishops and don’t have them in a consecrated place

  • Politically__Incorrect

    It rather typifies the Church of England’s spiritual neglect. Either nobody did their homework, or somebody did it but the dog ate it.

    • chefofsinners

      Or Martyn Percy has rewritten it in light of post modern morality and 21st century philology.

  • CliveM

    Can the CofE not reconsecrate the building? If it can, it should.

  • Sarky

    I thought the glass panel, so visitors can have a gawp as they walk over, was a nice touch.

    • chefofsinners

      Like watching Celebrity Big Brother, but with more interesting stuff going on, and better known celebrities.

    • len

      Got the idea from the RCC they’ve been doing that sort of stuff for ages.Its so they can ‘venerate’ their relics, bones, bit of cloth, etc, virtually anything they can get hold of?.

      • One of the most moving accounts of the veneration of relics is that of the very body of Christ itself. Rather than leaving his body on the cross, to be taken down and disposed of by the Romans (as was the customary practice), Joseph of Arimathea courageously interceded with Pilate for Christ’s body (Mark 15:43, John 19:38). He donated his own, newly hewn tomb as Christ’s resting place (Matt. 27:60). Nicodemus came and donated over a hundred pounds of spices to wrap inside Jesus’ grave clothes (John 19:39), that amount of spices being used only for the most honored dead. And after he was buried, the women went to reverently visit the tomb (Matt. 28:1) and to further anoint Christ’s body with spices even though it had already been sealed inside the tomb (Mark 16:1, Luke 24:1). These acts of reverence were more than just the usual courtesy shown to the remains of the dead; they were special respect shown to the body of a most holy man—in this case, the holiest man who has ever lived, for he was God Incarnate.

        https://www.catholic.com/tract/relics

        The veneration of relics is seen as early as Polycarp’s martyrdom in A.D. 156. “We took up his bones, which are more valuable than precious stones and finer than refined gold, and laid them in a suitable place, where the Lord will permit us to gather ourselves together, as we are able, in gladness and joy and to celebrate the birthday of his martyrdom.”

        The Church doesn’t say there is magical power in relics. There is nothing in the relic itself that has any curative ability. The Church just says that relics may be the occasion of God’s miracles, and in this the Church follows Scripture. The use of the bones of Elisha brought a dead man to life (2 Kgs. 13:20-21). An unequivocal biblical example of a miracle being performed by God through contact with the relics of a saint.

        Then there’s the cases of the woman cured of a haemorrhage by touching the hem of Christ’s cloak (Matt. 9:20-22) and the sick who were healed when Peter’s shadow passed over them (Acts 5:14-16). And God miracles by handkerchiefs or aprons of Paul when carried to the sick (Acts 19:11-12).

        • The C of E should sell off the bones one by one to gullible Roman Catholics.
          It would make a fortune.

          • Nah, the buried bishops are all proddies and so, by definition, cannot be Saints.

          • len

            The Bible claims all born again believers are Saints.
            You have a bible Jack?.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Your non genuine version of the Bible probably does.

          • Anton

            You will find the claim implicit but clear in the original Greek of your Bible too at Acts 9:13,32 among many such verses.

          • Cressida de Nova

            I cannot read Ancient Greek. You probably cannot either. However I do not need to read Ancient Greek to know that heretics cannot be made saints in the Catholic Church.

          • Rhoda

            The Vulgate also reads the same;so why does the Catholic Church impose more conditions for becoming a saint than the Bible?

          • Cressida de Nova

            The Catholic Church has a Tradition and a magisterium who interpret the Bible. Catholics follow the Catholic interpretation of the Bible set by the magisterium,which differs in many aspects to the many conflicting Protestant interpretations. Sola scriptura is unacceptable because it leads to self serving , biased and incorrect individual interpretations.
            Saints are canonised. They must be deceased before they can be canonised.

          • Anton

            Deceased to be canonised? It is one thing to interpret the Bible, but another to contradict it. Acts 9:32 states that “Peter, as he passed through, visiting all, came to the saints who dwelt at Lydda.” That is the same word in Greek as is used for “saints” in the historic Greek-speaking churches, HAGIOS, and is rendered SANCTOS in the Latin Vulgate. That’s the Douay-Rheims Catholic translation into English, by the way.

          • Word games. They are living and so are not in Heaven where they see God “face to face”.

          • Anton

            They are described in Acts 9:32 as saints while alive at the time, the word for Saint being the same that Rome has always used in Latin. This contradicts Cressida’s claim that a necessary condition for sainthood is having died, does it not? I presume she is quoting Roman doctrine correctly.

          • As Jack said, word games.

          • Anton

            Abuse as a substitute for argument shows that you have none of the latter left.

          • The Catholic Church acknolwedges that all of the baptised can be referred to as “saints.”
            CCC 1475 says: “In the communion of saints, “a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. Between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things.””

            CCC 946-948 makes it even more clear that all of God’s faithful can be referred to as “saints.” “After confessing “the holy catholic Church,” the Apostles’ Creed adds “the communion of saints.” In a certain sense this article is a further explanation of the preceding: “What is the Church if not the assembly of all the saints?” The communion of saints is the Church… “ The Catechism then continues: “Sancta sanctis! (“God’s holy gifts for God’s holy people”) is proclaimed by the celebrant in most Eastern liturgies during the elevation of the holy Gifts before the distribution of communion. The faithful (sancti) are fed by Christ’s holy body and blood (sancta) to grow in communion of the Holy Spirit (koinonia) and to communicate it to the world.”

            Catholics refer to canonized ‘saints’ as ‘Saints,’ but not one another this side of the veil. St. Paul definitively refers to all of the faithful at Colossae as “saints.” It simply means, “sanctified, set apart, or holy.” From a Catholic perspective, we would say of course St. Paul would refer to these Christians in this way because “being set apart and made holy” is precisely what baptism accomplishes in the life of every Christian. According to St. Paul, “the saints” on earth partake in part in what “the saints” in heaven possess in fullness. Thus, the Catholic Church reserves the title of “Saint” to those she has declared to be in heaven. They alone (“the Saints” in heaven) possess sainthood in its fullness.

          • Anton

            The Catholic Church acknolwedges that all of the baptised can be referred to as “saints.”

            Then why is it not its custom, so as to match St Paul?

          • It doesn’t. It simply Canonises those she is certain have possession of the Beatific Vision as a member of redeemed humanity in the communion of saints, perfect salvation in its entirety, i.e. heaven. These just souls, the Saints, attain immediate knowledge of God in Heaven.

          • Anton

            Would you translate that into English, please?

          • Only those who “run with perseverance the race that is set before us looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1), Len. Remember the Parable of the Sower.

        • chefofsinners

          Spoken like a true relic.

          • Yep, accepting scripture in this matter is seen by some as holding outmoded beliefs from an earlier time.

          • Cressida de Nova

            You have become so mean. I am removing two of your Michelin stars.

      • Mike Stallard

        Easy to mock.
        Actually relics are rather fun. And so are the myths.
        We English people have chucked both out (pigges’ bones) and now have to reinvent our own myths (Hobbit, Teletubbies, Game of Thrones) and relics (look at the prices paid for Lady Di’s cast offs).

        • len

          ‘Relics are fun’ ?
          Lot of fun to be had in the Vatican then?.

          • Mike Stallard

            I was actually thinking of the sacred shroud of Oviedo or the Holy Grail of Santiago or the legend of Santiago in Compostella…
            What was it Thomas Hobbes said about sitting on the bones of the Roman Empire?
            That too!

    • Maalaistollo

      Remains to be seen?

      • David

        Top corn yet !

        • Maalaistollo

          Why, thank ‘ee kindly!

      • Lol …. One shouldn’t laugh – but no matter.

    • David

      Do you moonlight as a ghoul ?
      I thought it rather macabre.

  • This’ll cheer you up.

  • chefofsinners

    If a tomb in a garden was good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for some pointy head primates.
    The question ‘Why seek ye the living among the dead?’ might be applied to this crypt or to the whole CoE. Those buildings not being deconsecrated are being desecrated by false religions and corruption of the truth. ‘Whited sepulchres which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones and of all uncleanness’. The situation is grave…

  • chefofsinners

    Trump?

  • Royinsouthwest

    Why only five lost archbishops? Couldn’t the CoE have managed to lose half a dozen?

    • len

      This is a dead serious matter you know?.

      • David

        Yes we are all falling for his tempting recipes.

    • chefofsinners

      The CoE has got archbishops to burn. Cranmer, for example.

      • David

        Steady now chief, we don’t want to give them ideas do we !

    • David

      Curb your ambitions man, it is not seemly for a Christian !

  • chefofsinners

    I’ve been chatting to these Archbishops using the well known service WhatsAbp.
    It has end-to-end encryption.

  • As a Catholic, Jack was raised in the belief we should take care to honour and bury the dead. St. Paul tells us that we are temples of the Holy Spirit, that God lives in our very bodies and therefore we should honour God with them (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Honouring the body doesn’t stop after a person has died.

    In a Catholic Mass we profess our belief in the Resurrection of the body when we say the Creed, “We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.” Just as Jesus’ body was raised and ascended into heaven so we believe our bodies will be returned to us when Christ returns.
    Burying the bodies of our dead reminds us of this hope in the Resurrection. It anticipates the reuniting of our body with our soul in heaven. Burial is not simply a disposing of the body but it is caring for that person to the point that it is a corporal work of mercy to bury the dead. Our bodies are not simply shells that can be tossed aside, though our body and soul separate at death the body still belongs to that person and it will be returned – in a glorified and spiritualised condition.

    • Mike Stallard

      You tell ’em Jack! As a fellow Catholic, I totally support your views!

      • len

        Fantasist.

        • Heretic.

          “[I]f the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” (1 Cor. 15:13–18)

    • len

      From your mixture of scriptural fact (and your added fantasy )your description of the raising of the dead sounds like a bunch of zombies raising from the grave.
      Our bodies actually are’ shells’ as St Pauls says;’But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.'(2 Corinthians 4:7)

      How is a cremated person ressurected in your philosophy?
      The Bible says’ dust to dust.’ We came from dust we go to dust.

      Those who are truly born again , joined One Spirit with Christ can look forward to a gloriously Transformed body at the Resurrection.

      • You don’t believe in the resurrection of the dead? That God will bring a person’s body together again, transform it, glorify it and spiritualise it? Just as He made us from dust, He will resurrect the dead from dust.

        • len

          Read my post…Again possibly?

          • Jack has and you wrote: “(Y)our description of the raising of the dead sounds like a bunch of zombies raising from the grave.” and “How is a cremated person ressurected in your philosophy?The Bible says’ dust to dust.’ We came from dust we go to dust.”

            The Bible tells us that when Jesus returns to earth, he will physically raise all those who have died, giving them back the bodies they lost at death. These will be the same bodies people had in earthly life – but our resurrection bodies will not die and, for the righteous, they will be transformed into a glorified state, freed from suffering and pain, and enabled to do many of the amazing things Jesus could do with his glorified body (cf. 1 Cor. 15:35–44, 1 John 3:2).

            The resurrection of the body is an essential Christian doctrine, as the apostle Paul declares: “[I]f the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” (1 Cor. 15:13–18)

            Jack’s views are entirely consistent with scripture.

    • Cressida de Nova

      It is disgraceful that an explanation has to be provided to why deceased bodies are not deserving of basic respect and not tossed aside like rubbish.I just spoke to a Protestant and he said he was absolutely aghast at the thought of these bishops being dumped in that manner. Any decent person would have the same response. I can only think that the Protestant representation on here is from some very weird cults.

      • Anton

        Generalising again? I wrote below that “Canterbury Cathedral is the place for Archbishops of Canterbury remembered only by church historians. If Richard III can be reverently moved then so can these men.”

        • Cressida de Nova

          You are not the only Protestant on this blog. I know what you wrote and this response obviously did not apply to you.

          • len

            Not your usual ‘scattergun approach’ then Cressida?.

          • Anton

            It wasn’t obvious, given that you spoke without caveat of “the Protestant representation on here”, but I am grateful for the clarification.

      • len

        I think these people were buried…In coffins as well..suprisingly as they were’ protestants’…

  • betteroffoutofit

    Ah yes, Your Grace, Southwark. Now you may gather why I fear for York . . .

  • Father David

    Wasn’t Oliver William Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes (described by Trevor Beeson as “the last aristocrat to make his mark on the church”) Rector of that church next to Lambeth Palace prior to becoming a great Dean of Lincoln?
    What was truly galling was to hear on the wireless the Easter Day Home Service edition of the SUNDAY programme that three-quarters of the churches in the diocese of Lincoln don’t now have a regular service each and every Sunday. That surely says more about the current state of the Church of England than the discovery of five long dead Archbishops of Canterbury.

    • Mike Stallard

      Our local village church was hermetically closed on Easter Day.

    • David

      “That surely says more about the current state of the Church of England than ….”
      Yes, but what it really points to is the parlous spiritual state of the vast majority of the peoples of these islands.

  • michaelkx

    I think this depicts the state of the C o E believes, dead and forgotten

    • len

      Jesus will not lose any true believer, we are safe in His Hands.

  • Father David

    I think that David is correct in pointing to “the parlous spiritual state of the vast majority of the peoples of these islands” What kind of witness and message does it give out when three quarters of the churches of the once great diocese of Lincoln have their doors firmly shut on Sundays? Aren’t there any lay people in these Lincolnshire villages who could lead a service of the Word on the Lord’s Day?

  • Haggai One Nine

    “Even in 1972 they should have been aware….”
    …that there was a major revival going on in England’s churches; in fact I believe that Anglican Renewal had been formed sometime during the previous 4 years. It lasted well into the 1990’s. (Just in time for the “Decade of Evangelism”)

    But I suppose it’s just too much to hope that somebody had remembered were they’d put the vacuum-cleaner to get rid of all the centuries of collected dust and debris that had formed after the demise of that great Christian Anglican: John Wesley.

  • Hans Thorsen

    What I find to be disturbing and disrespectful in regards to the discovery of the crypt below the floor of this ancient church turned “gardening museum”, is the placement (as I have read) of a glass panel in the floor, so that museum visitors can gawk at the tombs of five archbishops and others, after they’ve looked at displays of antique rakes and pruning shears. This was once hallowed ground. It should be again. What on earth has the Church of England become, that it doesn’t act on instinct to this effect?