Stone Coffins and a Tomb

Although the Association of Graveyard Rabbits didn’t exist ten years ago, Mr. Ed and I, like many of you, were visiting graveyards whenever we had the chance. Lo and behold as I was wandering through an old photo album/scrapbook about our trip to the British Isles in 1999 there were pictures of several graveyards interspersed with other items of interest. Imagine that!

Here are some of the pictures and notes from that album:

On a visit to York, England, we took a walking tour and saw the amazing ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey and picked up some interesting tidbits about the way burials were handled all those many years ago. First a little bit about the Abbey: It was a Benedictine Abbey originally founded in 1055 and over the years was rebuilt more than once, the last time in 1271. It was a very rich Abbey in fact the richest in the North of England and was the largest landowner in York at the time. In the year 1539 under King Henry VIII came the “Dissolution of the Monasteries” at which time the Abbey was dissolved and mostly destroyed. There’s some thought that the King may have been more interested in capturing the wealth of the Monasteries and Abbeys than in changing their forms of worship.



The Ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey, York, England, UK

As we toured St. Mary’s and its surroundings we viewed some stone coffins. These were actually used to bury the dead and were basically huge slabs of rock hollowed out to make room for the corpse. Because of the difficulty and expense of making the coffins only the rich or nobles were buried in this fashion. For some good pictures of stone caskets near the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey check these links:, and


The City of York is most famous for its York Minster, a beautiful cathedral, and the largest Gothic Cathedral in Northern Europe. York Minster is the seat of the Diocese of York. A church has existed in the location since the year 627 and has gone through episodes destruction by fire and invasion and been rebuilt several times, the present building being completed in 1472. At one time the York Minster had about 60 elaborate tombs, however many of these were destroyed during the English Reformation in the 16th Century. Some tombs have survived though and I was able to get this picture:




Tomb inside the York Minster



Another of the churches in York is Holy Trinity one of the oldest, dating from the 15th century. Holy Trinity Church has retained the old box pews and the age of the place is evident by the uneven floors. And being a good Graveyard Rabbit I’ll tell you that many of the stones of the floor are gravestones. The named individual isn’t necessarily buried under your feet (but might be) and if not the stone might say “near here lies the body of……” It’s an odd feeling to walk on those stones.


Holy Trinity

Holy Trinity, York, England, UK


Susan J. Edminster, Granite Falls, Washington, All rights reserved

Pictures are the sole property of Susan J. Edminster



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