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The Barker Vault
during Sonning Church's Restoration (1852)

We…proceeded to examine the vaults, which extend under great part of the Church. Some years before, in 1844, the large vault belonging to the Barker family, under the East end of the Chancel, had been opened. I had observed a sinking of the pavement going on, just at the step before the gate of the Communion rails, and thought it advisable to examine into the cause. It was well we did so, for directly the bricks were taken up, down went the earth into the mouth of the vault. The steps had been covered over with slabs of wood, which had rotted, and the pavement, wholly unsupported, might have given way any day, and dropped the passer by into the vault below. We now opened this vault again. It was quite full of coffins, one or two of great size. Most improperly some of these were without inner lead coffins, and we could now easily account for the disagreeable smell which had often been perceived in the old Church. The Barker family being extinct, and there being no chance of any one wishing hereafter to open this vault, we filled up all the vacant parts, and the steps, with earth, and finally bricked it up.


From Hugh Pearson’s “Memorials of the Church and Parish of Sonning” (1890)


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