The Chase Vault is located 7 miles from Bridgetown in Barbados, the reason the family vault has become famous is down an incredible tale about the coffins moving. The vault has half above ground and the other half below, this was to protect the vault from natural elements. Due to the story of the moving coffin and over a number of years the vault was eventually left abandoned.
Whilst there has been a few versions the most elemental parts remain the same. The vault was constructed for James Elliott in 1724 but he was never buried there. Instead it’s first occupant was Thomasina Goddard in 1807. Sometime a year later the vault came into the hands of the Chase Family, a wealthy Barbados family. Rumours are that the head of the family, Thomas Chase, was not well liked and he was cruel to his slaves.
On Feb 22nd 1808 the body of his infant daughter, Mary Ann Maria Chase was taken to the vault. Goddard’s wooden casket sat in the corner as expected. In 1812 it was then opened again to bury his other daughter, Dorcas. Again nothing unusual was reported, the two girls lay at rest. One month later it was Thomas Chase himself that was to be placed in the vault. One of the girls caskets was found displaced, reports around the time say Mary’s coffin was thrown from the north-east corner to the opposite corner with such force it was standing on its end. It was assumed to be the work of vandals, the caskets were placed back in place and the marble slab covering the entrance was put back in place.
1816 – another infant Samuel Brewster Ames was to be placed in the vault. This time all of the coffin’s bar Goddard’s were moved. To replace Thomas Chase’s casket took eight men to move it, due to the weight. Once more they ordered the caskets into place and left. Samuel Brewster the elder was then placed there in Nov 1816, again the coffins were moved and the vault had to be sorted again.
By this time the local legend had found more than one interested party, 1819 they buried Thomasina Clark and again the coffins had been moved. The governor, Lord Combermere was at the burial. A search showed there was not sign of movement in the sand, no secret entrances but sadly due to the constant disturbances Goddard’s wooden coffin was showing signs of decay and was slowly falling to pieces. The governor and the officials there placed their seals in the cement as a proof it was remaining sealed up.
In 1820, eight months later, they opened the vault. The seals remained in tact and the slab was in place but the coffins had once again moved. With the exception of Goddard’s casket they were all strewn around again. This time however a rather grim report came from the People’s Almanac that Dorcas’ bony arm was sticking out of the side of her coffin. After this the coffins were placed elsewhere and the Chase Vault was abandoned. Christ Church Parish Church is there the vault is still located today, and whilst there are no reports in the papers about the event it would appear that the originator of the story Thomas H Orderson, the Rector of the time, did provide his accounts to interest parties.
The Williams Vault, nearby was supposedly affected with some similar story. Speculation states they were hoaxes by Freemason’s or other such ideas.
Below are two pictures I found on a google search. The first is an older depiction and the second the most recent.