The Moving Coffins of Barbados

Barbados is an Island found in the Southern Caribbean Sea, it is widely known for its tropical paradise that is frequented by thousands of tourist every year.  However it is also a home of a mysterious phenomenon that happened during the early 19th century.

In 1807, The Chase Family Vault found in the cemetery of Christ Church Parish became widely known as a center of enigmatic activity and became one of the supernatural mysteries in the island.  It is a burial in a hill that was overlooking the Caribbean Sea.  It is an ancient burial ground which is found near the Oistin village at the Southern part of Barbados.  The vault can be entered via stone steps and was encased with a heavy stone slab made of blue marble that required 6-7 men for it to move.

The vault was constructed in 1704 by James Elliot and was already weathered by the time that the Chase Family purchased it.  The Chase family was not liked by the villagers due to their eccentric behavior and the way they treated slaves.  James Elliot was never laid in that vault, by the time that Chase family purchased it, there was only one remain inside which reportedly belongs to Thomasina Goddard.  The Chase family decided not to disinter the body and let it stay inside the tomb.

In 1808 Mary-Anne Maria Chase an infant born in the family died and her remains was put in a heavy metal coffin.  4 years after the death of the infant, Dorcas Chase, the sister of the infant died a mysterious death.  She was also buried the same way in a heavy lead casket.  After only a month, Thomas Chase himself died.  He allegedly committed suicide.  He was interred in a casket weighing 240 pounds that took 8 men to carry it to the vault.

Based on the accounts, it was on the interment of Thomas Chase that the paranormal events occurred.  Upon moving the marble slab to lay down the casket of Thomas, they saw the casket of Dorcas and the infant in a strange position.  They were so surprised to see the position of the coffin since it would took great strength to position it that way.  Nothing had been stolen and the remains were not violated.  The incident was blamed on vandals and the tomb was sealed even tighter.

In 1816, Charles Brewster Ames, 11, was buried on the same vault. Upon unsealing the tomb, they again discovered the caskets in a disarray position.  It’s as if someone tossed up the coffin like little things.  But again, the remains were left intact and nothing was stolen.  There were two more times when the vault has to be opened and again, the entire casket inside the vault was displaced.

The phenomena caught the interest of the governor and ordered a thorough investigation.  The wife of the governor explained the investigation:

“In my husband’s presence, every part of the floor was sounded to ascertain that no subterranean passage or entrance was concealed. It was found to be perfectly firm and solid; no crack was even apparent. The walls, when examined, proved to be perfectly secure. No fracture was visible, and the sides, together with the roof and flooring, presented a structure so solid as if formed of entire slabs of stone.”

After the investigation, all the coffins are again brought back to their original place.  The governor made extra effort to make sure that the coffins will not move again.  After 8 months, due to curiosity, the governor ordered that the vault has to be reopened.  The mortar seal he placed was unbroken and there were no sign that someone breached the place.

But again, the coffin of Thomas Chase was at the entrance as if barring someone from entering the place.  It took the strength of a lot of men to move the coffin and to gain entry.  When they were inside they were shocked to see that all coffins were once again displaced.

Nathan Lucas, who was present at that time said:

“…I examined the walls, the arch, and every part of the Vault, and found every part old and similar; and a mason in my presence struck every part of the bottom with his hammer, and all was solid. I confess myself at a loss to account for the movements of these leaden coffins. Thieves certainly had no hand in it; and as for any practical wit or hoax, too many were requisite to be trusted with the secret for it to remain unknown; and as for negroes having anything to do with it, their superstitious fear of the dead and everything belonging to them precludes any idea of the kind. All I know is that it happened and that I was an eye-witness of the fact…”

Upon the discovery of the displaced coffin, the governor ordered for separate burial sites at the Christ Church Parish.  He also forbade anyone from burying bodies inside the tomb.  Up to this day the Chase Family vault remain empty.  Fortunately no further similar incident occurred after they move the body.


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