Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Question from Michael - Burial vault in St. George's Chapel
I am so curious about the royal vault in st. georges chapel. I would love to see a sketch or a photo of the layout,etc.....where exactly is it located under the chapel.....how do you gain access.......what do the niches look like......are the remains of the coffins on shelves lying open to the air,etc......where exactly in the vault was King George the 6th left for 19 years until he was moved to the niche in the main part of the chapel......I have visited Windsor 5 times in the last twenty years and every time I visit the chapel I wonder who I am walking over and where,etc.....how big is /are the vaults.....when was the last time it was opened.....the lucky custodial staff has a firsthand view into history.....must they sign confidentiality agreements.....ANY information on the vault would be greatly appreciated.....research and curiosity abound......thanks.......Mike
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I was always under the impression that there are several vaults under the chapel.
I was lucky enough as a school girl to attend the 500 Years Exhibition at St George's and remember seeing hair of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, which was taken from their coffins in 1789 and 1810.
Henry VIII's vault was opened in the 19th century and Charles I's coffin was opened. This was described in detail in an account by Henry Halford, available today.
You may also like to check out "O Horrable Murder - The Trial, Execution and Burial of Charles I" by Robert B Partridge which has more details.
I do know that when Charles was buried, nobody could find the vault because it was unmarked. They discovered it by banging on the floor with their feet and when it sounded hollow, they took up some flagstones to discover the vault below. This contained the large coffin of Henry (covered with a rotting pall)and Jane Seymour's smaller coffin.
Unfortunately Henry never got the grandiose tomb he planned. A good account of what happened to the tomb is given in Hutchinson's "Last Days of Henry VIII".
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