Sunday, 8 December 2013

The Vault

    A couple of years ago, shortly after my mum's friend M died, the gravediggers were at work in our village churchyard. Unexpectedly, they hit concrete a few inches underground. Moving over a burial plot, yet more concrete. Three more plots across before they found earth again.
    They were mystified. This was the first burial in the churchyard for a couple of decades and the first in a new plot for much longer, it's not a village with a high death rate. The vicar had no idea, she's only been in the job for a few years. It seems the records were a little badly kept.
    My dad knew what it was straight away when they asked him, they'd found the Vault. A bit of a local legend, that one.
    I can remember people talking about it when I was very young, it was the kind of local gossip that hung around. Some time in the decade before I was born an elderly female relative of a local man died. She was quite wealthy, so the story went, and the man - let's say he had a reputation for being a little sharp - made it his business to work his way into her affections while she was in her dotage. With some success, as he secured the inheritance of her money.
    The old lady had nominated a close friend as her executor. She saw through the man pretty quickly, though she couldn't prevent her friend changing her will in his favour. So when the old lady died she could only watch as the heir awaited probate so he could collect his cheque.
    The executor had a job to do though, she had to arrange  the old lady's funeral and burial. For which the estate of the deceased would of course pay. She proceeded to perform that task for her friend by arranging the most lavish funeral and burial that money could buy in the 1960s, which is why hidden under the turf of a quiet country churchyard there lies - so I'm told, I've never seen it - a full-sized millionaire-spec walk-in vault containing a single extremely expensive coffin. The story repeated when I was young with many a smirk at the expense of the heir was that there wasn't even any money left over for grass seed when the vault was covered over, still less for an inheritance.
    I've often wondered what an archaeologist will make of it in a few hundred years time.

4 comments:

  1. Well Jenny, if your blog is still floating around in the Internet they may stumble upon an explanation. Looks like someone didn't get what they had expected because of the shrewd executor. I love stories like these.

    Shirley Anne x

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  2. This would make a very good short story, with a moral point. You just need to expand it, and embellish it with some dialogue. A writing career looms.

    Lucy

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  3. Until recently nobody in our village / small town was able to die because there were only a couple of places left in the graveyard and they were already booked and paid for. Now we can all die when we want since over the last couple of months the graveyard has been extended. The standard of the work is outrageous, the roads are infinitely better within the graveyard than they are leading to it, the new stone walls round it are the best in the area and every headstone will sit on ready made concrete foundations suitable for a skyscraper.

    No doubt each plot will cost as much as your vault...

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  4. Perhaps apocryphal but the story goes that a rich man who disliked his family stipulated that they should bury his body at sea and only those who attended would get ant inheritance from the will to be read by his lawyer when back on dry land.

    He was a big guy but they thought it a struggle to heave him overboard in his coffin but hoped the payoff would be worth it. The lawyer read out the will which said that the deceased had converted his wealth into platinum and melted it into sheets which lined the coffin which they had chucked into the sea. When they went into his basement garage sure enough there was a small furnace and splashed traces of metal on the floor…

    Little did they know that he had in fact given away the platinum to his favourite charities!

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