The Ghostly Cemetery of Christ Church, Barbados
The cemetery of the Christ Church Parish Church in Oistins, Christ Church, Barbados is just like any other cemetery: its got headstones, crosses, flowers on gravesights, crypts, and it’s share of ghost stories. However, unlike other cemeteries, its ghost stories might be true; and if they’re not, they might hide something else just as mysterious. You see, the grounds are home to the legendary Chase Vault, a family sized tomb that at this point sits empty after alleged years of strange occurrences within its walls.
Erected in 1724 for a man named James Elliot, the tomb was built partially underground (like a sunken living room) measuring12 feet long and 6½ feet wide. Elliot was never actually buried there, but a woman named Thomasina Goddard was. Shortly after her burial, a man named Thomas Chase purchased the tomb. Some accounts paint Thomas Chase a notoriously hated man, while others merely state that he was a man of great wealth and importance. One thing that can be agreed upon is that he was the patriarch of a large family and it’s in the burials of this family that the mystery of the Chase Vault lies.
Thomas Chase buried two of his daughters inside the vault without any incidents; it was with the burial of Thomas himself that the first incident occurred. When the vault was opened to inter Thomas Chase, the heavy lead coffins that housed his daughter’s and Goddard’s bodies were found thrown about the crypt, heavily damaged. At first this was believed to be the work of grave robbers or vandals, but subsequent burials found the same results each time; each case worse than the last and with no signs of forced entry. In fact, investigators once went so far as to re-mortar the vault’s entrance and spread sand everywhere to insure that any signs of entry would be visible in later investigations. When the vault was re-opened after a noise complaint, it was again found with the coffins strewn about, but with the mortar and sand undisturbed. Finally, the vault was abandoned in 1820, the bodies were buried elsewhere and the vault has remained empty ever since. This case has obviously become the suspect of various supernatural speculations; but many historians think the tomb is empty for an entirely different reason, one that has nothing to do with ghosts at all.
One of the main issues with the Chase Vault mystery is that there are no official records of any of the incidents ever having occurred. The vault is in fact believed to be empty, but other than word-of-mouth legends and one unpublished account of a witness to the investigator known as Nathan Lucas; the story of the Chase Vault remains unverified. It also seems that most accounts stem from Thomas H. Orderson, rector of the church at the time of the incidents. It is for this reason that some believe the story of the Chase Vault is totally fabricated by Freemasons. Many aspects of the accounts by Lucas and Orderson, including references to hammers tapping the walls and the vault’s arches, are rife with Freemason symbols and phrases. The concept of a “secret vault” is very big in Masonic lore, and therefore makes it seem as if the entire vault story is merely a coded message or an allegory for the legendary order. So why use the Chase Vault as a means to convey a message? No one knows, but some speculate that there may be a Masonic treasure hidden there, or that it’s simply a hoax, put forth by the Freemasons to confuse and bewilder people.
It may never be known what really went on inside the Chase Vault, or if anything went on there at all. So much time has passed that any treasure that could have been there could have been moved long since, and any truths about the vault have been forgotten. Now, all that remains is an empty tomb and a scary story…and an Other World Mystery.