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Saturday September 21 2019

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Shakespeare’s skull under Village church?

Posted on October 07 2009 at 11:30:59

Could the stolen skull of William Shakespeare be resting in a vault beneath a local church?
This claim, made in a one-shilling book more than 100 years ago, had been all but forgotten until it was brought to the attention of The Village by an Alvechurch resident.
So in true Indiana Jones spirit, we ventured into the vault last month through a rarely opened gap in search of evidence.
There we found a collection of coffins containing the remains of members of the once rich and powerful Sheldon family, former Lords of Beoley.
There was also a narrow opening into a chamber scattered with human bones – and there we saw the skull said to have been taken from Shakespeare’s grave in Stratford more than 200 years ago.
Our inquiries were prompted by the recollections of Morris Jephcott of a similar visit to the vault below St Leonard’s Church, Beoley, nearly 70 years ago.
On that occasion he was accompanying his friend, the Rev Evan Cruickshank, vicar of Beoley from 1935 until 1946.
Morris, well known as a bee-keeper and for his Alvechurch honey, told how he and Rev Cruickshank, along with a photographer friend called Leonard Lascelles Whitfield, clambered into the dark, damp crypt.
They had read the story and were keen to see if there was a still a skull in the bone-repository as described by the anonymous author.
“It was there all right, and I still have the photograph of the skull,” Morris revealed.
By chance, the now sealed entrance to the vault was being opened for a few hours last month for an inspection by surveyors – and The Village was allowed down . . .

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