On Easter Sunday on a visit to Kent, we managed to look at couple of churches and one I remember from sixteen years ago when we lived in Kent. St Mary’s Church in Luddenham, near Faversham, was an over run desolate building when we first visited, standing in a working farmyard, it stood empty and forlorn. But not long after our first visit the Churches Conservation Trust took over the building, and now you can walk through a wild but managed graveyard, and explore the church which is now opened daily. This post is not about the church, hopefully that will come later, but about something special inside the church.
When you enter the church you cannot miss this wonderful coffin slab. The stone is not original to the church, but came from Stone Chapel nearby. The chapel is the ruined church of Our Lady of Elwarton of Roman and Saxon origins. The 13th century Purbeck stone coffin slab depicts a cross, and a pair of hands holding a heart. I doubt if there is any records of the coffins at Stone Chapel as there are only ruins left, we didn’t have time to visit, but its on the list for the next time.
I just wondered if this is possibly a crusaders coffin slab. When knights went on crusades, and knowing that their chances of survival were slim, they wanted their hearts to be sent home to be buried in their local churches. There are some wonderful stone tombs for many knights, but in some, you would only find a casket with the remains of a heart. As this one shows a heart, maybe its one knight who did not return home.