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Remains of former Archbishops of Canterbury found ‘by accident’ beneath London church

PUBLISHED: 10:06 17 April 2017 | UPDATED: 10:06 17 April 2017

Lambeth Palace. Photo: Google

Lambeth Palace. Photo: Google

Archant

Builders discovered coffins that had lain undisturbed for centuries during refurbishment at St May-at-Lambeth

The remains of five former Archbishops of Canterbury have reportedly been found “by accident” beneath a church in London.

Last year, according to The Telegraph, during the refurbishment of the Garden Museum, which is housed in a deconsecrated medieval parish church next to Lambeth Palace, the archbishop’s official capital residence, builders discovered a cache of 30 lead coffins that had lain undisturbed for centuries.

Upon closer inspection, they found metal plates bearing the names of five former archbishops, going back to the early 1600s.

Two coffins had nameplates, which belonged to Richard Bancroft - archbishop from 1604 to 1610 - and John Moore, who was archbishop from 1783 to 1805.

St Mary-at-Lambeth’s records have since revealed that a further three archbishops were probably buried in the secret vault: Frederick Cornwallis (archbishop from 1768 to 1783), Matthew Hutton (archbishop from 1757 to 1758) and Thomas Tenison (archbishop from 1695 to 1715).

A sixth, Thomas Secker (archbishop from 1758 to 1768), had his internal organs buried in a canister in the churchyard, the newspaper adds.

Building site manager Karl Patten said: “It was amazing seeing the coffins.

“We’ve come across lots of bones on this job, but we knew this was different when we saw the archbishop’s crown.”

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