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Hertfordshire Life - - CHURCH LEGENDS -

Eaves-drip buri­als

A stone’s throw over Herts’ north­ern bor­der, at Holy Trin­ity in Chrishall, the phe­nom­e­non of ‘eaves-drip buri­als’ has been found. Dur­ing an ar­chae­o­log­i­cal dig for the re­mains of the early Chris­tian church on the site, a cache of in­fant bod­ies was found clus­tered un­der the eaves of the old build­ing. The folk ex­pla­na­tion for this is that the wa­ter, pass­ing over a holy build­ing, would bless those who died be­fore bap­tism.

Plague graf­fiti

St Mary’s in Ash­well, built from an un­usu­ally soft stone, is a palimpsest of an­cient graf­fiti, in­clud­ing the chill­ing tes­ti­mony of vil­lagers dur­ing the Black Death. In 1361, one sur­vivor wrote of the plague of 1350 as ‘pitiable, fierce vi­o­lent’ and how ‘a wretched pop­u­lace’ now re­mained. On a lighter note, a later graf­fiti artist scratched, ‘the Archdea­con is an ass’.

Breed­ing stones Pud­ding­stone is a con­crete­like con­glom­er­ate that is al­most com­pletely unique to Hert­ford­shire, and fea­tures as a build­ing ma­te­rial in the walls of many of the county’s churches. The rock has been a mag­net for folk­lore, be­ing used to ward off witches, set at bor­ders, and has been called the ‘breed­ing stone’ be­cause it is said to give birth to new stones.

De­tail of a carved stone An­glo Saxon sar­coph­a­gus in the crypt of St Mary’s in Wirksworth, Der­byshire. With the high rate of in­fant mor­tal­ity, chil­dren were of­ten buried un­der eaves and by walls to re­cieve bap­tism from the rain, as at Chrishall near Roys­ton

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