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The mystery of the Chase Family Vault

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Matt Forde: In 1808 the wealthy Chase family of Barbados acquired a vault in which to inter their dead relatives. Already some eighty years old, the vault was built semi-underground and hewn out of the compacted coral that makes up much of the island’s foundations. Despite its age, the crypt had only housed a single occupant; one Thomasina Goddard.

The head of the Chase family, Colonel Thomas Chase, decided not to disturb Goddard and she was not moved to another vault. Indeed, she was soon saved from her lonely prostration when the young Mary-Anne Maria Chase joined her in lead-lined eternity. Four years later the vault was re-opened to allow Mary-Anne's sister Dorcas' entry.

The unfortunate Chase family suffered another death when Thomas himself passed away barely a month after Dorcas. Only upon this latest reopening of the vault did the foundations of the legend begin to take root. It was found that Dorcas' coffin had moved from its original position so that it now rested against the far wall "standing on end, with its head downward" (some sources insist that Mary-Anne’s coffin had already moved mysteriously by the time they opened the vault up for Dorcas). Blaming vandals or thieves, the funeral party replaced the coffin, slid the marble slab back over the entrance and left.
From then on every time the vault was opened to allow the submission of another of the Chase's relatives the vault's contents would be in disarray. This included Thomas Chase's heavy casket which, according to sources, took eight men to lift. Four times over the following years would the marble slab be heaved aside and the sun's light would illuminate the enigmatic danse macabre that had thrown the coffins into morbid disarray. Finally, the strange activities attracted attention from the island's inhabitants and officials who attended Thomasina Clark's internment in great numbers.

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Matt Forde: In 1808 the wealthy Chase family of Barbados acquired a vault in which to inter their dead relatives. Already some eighty years old, the vault was built semi-underground and hewn out of the compacted coral that makes up much of the island’s foundations. Despite its age, the crypt had only housed a single occupant; one Thomasina Goddard.

The head of the Chase family, Colonel Thomas Chase, decided not to disturb Goddard and she was not moved to another vault. Indeed, she was soon saved from her lonely prostration when the young Mary-Anne Maria Chase joined her in lead-lined eternity. Four years later the vault was re-opened to allow Mary-Anne's sister Dorcas' entry.

The unfortunate Chase family suffered another death when Thomas himself passed away barely a month after Dorcas. Only upon this latest reopening of the vault did the foundations of the legend begin to take root. It was found that Dorcas' coffin had moved from its original position so that it now rested against the far wall "standing on end, with its head downward" (some sources insist that Mary-Anne’s coffin had already moved mysteriously by the time they opened the vault up for Dorcas). Blaming vandals or thieves, the funeral party replaced the coffin, slid the marble slab back over the entrance and left.

From then on every time the vault was opened to allow the submission of another of the Chase's relatives the vault's contents would be in disarray. This included Thomas Chase's heavy casket which, according to sources, took eight men to lift. Four times over the following years would the marble slab be heaved aside and the sun's light would illuminate the enigmatic danse macabre that had thrown the coffins into morbid disarray. Finally, the strange activities attracted attention from the island's inhabitants and officials who attended Thomasina Clark's internment in great numbers.

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I've heard of this before - it's high tide waters which enter the crypts and lift the coffins out of their resting places and put them down differently when the waters recede.

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OCEAN: and i would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for you meddling teenagers!

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"Expert opinion maintained the weird happenings were caused by water flooding the vault, although on the three occasions it was opened no trace of water could be found. This is the obvious solution, of course, but is there another explanation?"

I don't see how this could be "the obvious solution" when there's absolutely no evidence that the "solution" ever occurred. Once we start playing that game, the obvious solution could include anything, from earth tremors to angry Sea Monkeys. Seems to me that the most obvious solution is that it never happened at all but was as Joe Nickell suggests, just a Masonic hoax.

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OCEAN: and i would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for you meddling teenagers!

Don't forget the dumb dog too.

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OCEAN: and i would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for you meddling teenagers!

One of my favorite lines to use over the years.

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I remeber reading about this years ago, really interesting.

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I remeber reading about this years ago, really interesting.

Me too, but this is much to do about nothing at this point "Expert opinion maintained the weird happenings were caused by water flooding the vault, although on the three occasions it was opened no trace of water could be found. This is the obvious solution,"

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Posted (edited)

I've heard of this before - it's high tide waters which enter the crypts and lift the coffins out of their resting places and put them down differently when the waters recede.

If the coffins were so heavy it took 8 strong men to lift them, it's doubtful that they would be able to simply float to a different location in the case of a flood.. not to mention the water would have left at least staining and mould growth had there been any...

They should have posted a night vision camera to see what was happening inthere :s...

Added: Oh and also, they did mention there were no cracks in the vault for water to get in through, and even if there were cracks, they would have to have had to have been big enough to produce enough force/momentum in the water to move such heavy objects..

So I think you can rule out flooding...

Edited by Flinderschnab

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"Expert opinion maintained the weird happenings were caused by water flooding the vault, although on the three occasions it was opened no trace of water could be found. This is the obvious solution, of course, but is there another explanation?"

I don't see how this could be "the obvious solution" when there's absolutely no evidence that the "solution" ever occurred.

To those that might be confused; the quote "Expert opinion maintained the weird happenings were caused by water flooding the vault, although on the three occasions it was opened no trace of water could be found. This is the obvious solution, of course, but is there another explanation?"is...

(1) concerning the case in Suffolk that shares similarities to the Chase Vault goings-on and NOT about the Chase Vault itself, and...

(2) sourced from 'The Stanton Courier' Issue No 8 June 1969 so any puzzlement about "the obvious solution" would have to be directed at that newspaper's writer. I suppose the author thought water was the most 'obvious solution' as in the most 'rational or mundane explanation'.

For my part, I perhaps should have omitted that sentence. Thanks for reading!

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If the coffins were so heavy it took 8 strong men to lift them, it's doubtful that they would be able to simply float to a different location in the case of a flood.. not to mention the water would have left at least staining and mould growth had there been any...

They should have posted a night vision camera to see what was happening inthere :s...

Added: Oh and also, they did mention there were no cracks in the vault for water to get in through, and even if there were cracks, they would have to have had to have been big enough to produce enough force/momentum in the water to move such heavy objects..

So I think you can rule out flooding...

Obviously we are relying on third party information here and that can be notoriously inaccurate. I've never visited the site and I'm bored :sleepy: so here are my musings as an engineer, for what they are worth.

Re the heavy coffins. Its the basic displacement principle where an object would float if the weight of water that would be contained in the submerged volume exceeds the weight of the object. We've all seen footage of floods where heavy objects such as cars and indeed entire houses float away. Unless the vaults are being filled with some other heavy substance I would surmise water ingress as being the culprit here. The statement that one of the coffins was chipped with the force of a collision would indicate that any water ingress was rapid and not slow. This would support the view that subterannean water enters and then leaves quickly. Porous coral rock?

Re the staining and mould growth your comment seems to make sense but in an anaerobic environment without oxygen could mould exist? It would be fascinating to find out what the atmosphere inside the crypt is comprised of. I don't recall being advised that the interior was painted or otherwise coated in a protective substance, therefore we don't know a great deal. We do know that lead is present and this could be a contributory factor. Such a surface film could prevent mould or staining. If the culprit was sweet subterranean fresh water this would be unlikely to leave any visible trace and probably wouldn't cause mould if it came and went quickly enough.

Or of course we could dispense with science and accept that dead people have entered an afterlife and are now haunted sprits living in another dimension and are having ghostly tantrums and defying the laws of physics by visiting their tomb to throw each other's coffins around in a hissy-fit to end all hissy-fits? For lack of any other plausible explanation I'll go with the water ingress theory. ;)

Some sort of webcam would be a most excellent idea to satisfy our curiosity. :tu:

I'm not bored now.

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@ Mandrake :

The water theory re the object being lighter than the water could make the coffins float... buut you said the water would have had to rush in and out quickly. and if that's the case, where would the water have entered/exited with no signs of cracks or openings anywhere inside? and if there were in fact cracks, if they weren't visible to the naked eye, it is quite doubtful that the water would have rushed in at such a speed as to cause displacement of such large objects :s

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I vaguely remember reading about this years ago. Thank you for the article and re-igniting my interest in this story. I'm off to read more about it :D

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I vaguely remember reading about this years ago. Thank you for the article and re-igniting my interest in this story. I'm off to read more about it :D

You are most welcome Pixiii!

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If the coffins were so heavy it took 8 strong men to lift them, it's doubtful that they would be able to simply float to a different location in the case of a flood.

For heaven's sake, ocean liners are thousands of times bigger and heavier than coffins and they float. What's the difference?

But the entire tidal waters theory falls absolutely flat. The vault is open today and tourists freely enter it. Nobody seems to have ever reported finding tidal waters inside!

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For heaven's sake, ocean liners are thousands of times bigger and heavier than coffins and they float. What's the difference?

But the entire tidal waters theory falls absolutely flat. The vault is open today and tourists freely enter it. Nobody seems to have ever reported finding tidal waters inside!

whats the difference? well for one the complete structure of an ocean liner... lol not to mention materials and propellers and engines etc.

granted i havent seen any pictures of these vaults or read anything on the structure or materials, so it could be that they did float, but i think its unlikely

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