Monday, 12 November 2018

‘Exciting’ news for Surrey church as Raleigh story makes the headlines

Above: St Mary’s Church, West Horsley  
Image credit: Hassocks5489

St Mary's Church, in the semi-rural village of West Horsley, between Guildford and Leatherhead, in Surrey, is a flint Saxon building dating from 1030 and is Grade I listed. The church was spared when the rest of the village was burned in 1066. Its tower was added in 1120, and the church extended to its current size in 1210.

West Horsley’s Raleigh School is a popular two-form entry co-educational primary academy which has strong connections with the Great Elizabethan. You can read about them here

On 29 October, the church hosted a service for the Raleigh School’s older children ‘to commemorate his life and the impact he had on this country’ as the Rector, The Revd Philip Herrington, explained.

The news, announced a few days previously that ‘The Raleigh Bag’ may have been found at West Horsley Place, has excited the whole village community, including the church.

‘It has long been thought that Sir Walter Raleigh's head is buried under the floor of our chancel chapel,’ the Revd Herrington wrote to me on 20 September. ‘According to a local historian, June Davey, it was finally buried in 1660 when Carew Raleigh buried his children (who died possibly of a plague-related illness) and decided that this was the opportunity to bury his father's head as well. The 400th anniversary seems to have affirmed the belief that his head is indeed buried in our church, which is exciting.’ 

News of the find, and of investigations by experts to discover the truth of the matter has indeed hit the headlines both in the UK and abroad, especially in the USA.  While there is excitement there is also scepticism on the part of some experts as the American Smithsonian Museum reported online.


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