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THE LEGEND OF THE MAIDEN'S TOMB
St. MARY THE VIRGIN CHURCH, PERIVALE
THE LEGEND OF THE MAIDEN'S TOMB

The Church of St. Mary the Virgin graveyard contains the tomb of Elizabeth Colleton who died in 1721, the second daughter of Sir Peter Colleton. Before her death she cried out that, if there was a just God, trees would grow out of her tomb. This is what actually happened, fissures appeared in the stones and then trees started to grow through the cracks. By the late 1800s the tomb had collapsed leaving a large stone slab on the ground and the iron railings buckled.

In accordance with the custom of the day the burial records record that she was buried in a woollen shroud.
An act of Parliament dated 1667 passed to assist the declining wool trade specified that it "..was to be punishable for a corps of any person to be buried in any stuffe or anything other than what is made of sheeps wool only..". . Failure to observe meant a £5 fine - the money to be divided between the informer and the poor.

Thisis an exceptional example of an 18th Century chest tomb in Portland stone with grey ledger slab panels decorated with drapery, cherubs heads and skulls. The Colleton family coat of arms is represented by three stags' heads within a roundel on a ledger slab. In 1999 the tomb was included on the statutary list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest.

The tomb has been restored and has now been reconstructed beside just one tree. As part of its renovation children from the Harvington School placed a 20th Century "time capsule" within the restored tomb.


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