Warblington church begins £150,000 improvement works expected to unearth remains from ancient burial sites
A CHURCH has begun a six-figure project to modernise the site – with an archaeologist on call should the works unearth remains at its ancient burial site.
St Thomas à Becket Church in Church Lane, Warblington, is undergoing works to convert a watch hut into kitchen and toilet facilities.
The works involve digging a cess pit in the 1,000 year old church’s yard, which contains ancient unmarked graves.
The project has an archaeologist on call should any human remains be discovered, according to church warden and project lead Christopher Morrison.
He said: ‘There is an urban myth that the church yard has a plague pit in it.
‘It’s fun to tell visitors because it’s a scary stuff, but I have never seen any documentation that shows that’s true.
‘There are no marked graves in the area that we are excavating.
‘The earliest marked grave in the church yard is from the 1800s.
‘We have an archaeologist available at short notice to offer us advice.
‘If I were a betting man I would bet that something will be found. The church has been her for over 1,000 years.’
The church predates the Domesday survey held in 1086.
Any discovered remains will either be left undisturbed or carefully excavated and re-buried with a ceremony depending on their condition, according to Christopher.
The church’s burial yard has been unused for more than 100 years, and the works should not affect the adjacent Warblington Cemetery.
The building works follows a huge fundraising effort to raise £150,000 required to undertake the delicate project, according to parish rector Andrew Sheard.
Andrew, who has served as rector for more than three years, said: ‘It’s exciting and very pleasing – what we are hoping is that the completion of the project will fit nicely with us overcoming the pandemic.
‘It should be all finished by the end of July.
‘So we are looking forward to celebrating in August with these improved facilities.’
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
You can subscribe here for unlimited access to our online coverage, including Pompey, for 27p a day.