An Empty Coffin

An Empty Coffin

Sheffield Evening Telegraph: 16 March 1909

Curious Discovery in Southport Church

Some workmen, in the course of excavation work at the St Cuthbert’s Church, Southport, removed a vault, situated under the old nave.

When the coffin was exposed it crumbled away, and it was soon that a peice of wood, three feet long, formed its only contents.

The inscription on the brass plate picked up from the dust shows the coffin to be that of Rev. Edwin Whixton Yorke, who died on March 23, 1815, after service for one year at the church as a curate.

It is suggested that the body was removed by ‘body snatchers’ or that, as the curate died in a public institution, it was taken for dissection purposes.

I've been researching the macabre world of body snatching since 2005 when I looked at the topic in depth for my Under Grad dissertation. Since then, I've been absolutely fascinated by this often forgotten side of Britain's history.