Bodysnatching mystery deepens

A mystery about who robbed a coffin in a vault in the crypt at St Mary the Virgin in Overton Drive has deepened after visitors were once again allowed to go beneath the church.

One of the vaults, pictured above,  was believed to have been robbed in the 1950s, probably for the thick lead which was placed around the 19th century coffins. But a visitor to the crypt during the Open House London event on Saturday told church officials that he had been a chorister at the church in the 1950s, and said that the vault had been long-robbed by that stage.

This raises the possibility that the robbery happened much earlier than had been thought, and possibly even closer to the time of the original interrment. Bodysnatching was known to occur, as is indicated by the presence of a watchman’s sentry box in the churchyard.

So the question remains whether there are any remains in the coffins. Further investigations may now take place.

There are more opportunities to visit the church and crypt on Sunday as Open House London continues.

  • While the threat of partial closure of St Mary’s remains strong – a proposal which would mean an end to 800 years of weekly worship on the site – attendance at services has increased to more than 60 over the summer. This figure puts it at or near the average figure for Church of England congregations, and would appear to deal a blow to the argument that weekly services should cease. Parishioners are keenly fighting the proposal.

Unseen St Mary’s

As the debate about the future of the jewel that is St Mary’s church in Overton Drive continues, this weekend’s Open House London gives people a chance to see into the crypt. Here is a taste of what they can see. Details are here, and a listing of all Wanstead buildings which are taking part is here.


Snapshots from the Fringe

The past week has been the most amazing Wanstead Fringe yet, with nearly every event sold out. We had nearly 800 people at the theatre, more than a hundred at the opera, three sold-out comedy nights, one sold out comedy afternoon for kids, 120 Jumble Trail stalls, 300 people at the Kinema (above), talks, demos, live music (below) and more and more and more…

The point of the Wanstead Fringe, which is run by volunteers, is to support and encourage cultural activities in Wanstead. On behalf of the Fringe Association, Wansteadium hopes people will agree that has certainly been the case this year.

And because it’s impossible to mention every event, or thank every person who was involved, here is a selection of visual memories of the week.

Nathan Nicholson from The Boxer Rebellion headlines at the acoustic night Keep the Freak Flag Flying



Podcast star Annabel Port

Stargazing at Overton Drive