Human bones found underneath a car park in Godalming and dating back to a burial ground from between the ninth and 13th centuries will be re-buried at a nearby church
Skeletons found underneath a Godalming car park will be re-buried at St Peter and St Paul’s church.
The Surrey Advertiser reported in March that while routine archaeological surveys were being carried out for a Waverley Borough Council affordable housing development in Station Road a number of skeletons were discovered.
Work abruptly halted while further surveys were carried out and bright blue hoarding went up around the site.
Despite repeated requests for information, the council has remained as quiet as the grave on the topic for the past six months.
A spokesman confirmed this week: “Due to its location in Godalming’s conservation area, planning conditions for the development included an archaeological survey, which when started, uncovered fragments of human bones.
“Further excavation trenches identified human remains in the east and north of the site, indicating that this part of the site was used as an early Christian burial ground between the ninth and 13th century, before it became disconnected from the church.
“As owners of the site we have been working closely with Surrey County Council Archaeological Team and the Ministry of Justice to understand the history of the site and to find the best way to take the development forward.
“Working also with Reverend Canon Mervyn Roberts and the Diocese of Guildford, we now plan to exhume and reinter the remains at the Church of St Peter and St Paul and will be publishing a notice in the local press to inform the public of our plans.”
According to Victorian maps, before the car park existed, the site formed part of the garden of a large house.
A house called Priory Orchard stood in the grounds of that house and has now been demolished as part of the development process.
The last family to live in Priory Orchard claimed the house was haunted. Chelsea Whiteman said her family lived there for six months while their current house was extended.
During that time she said they had strange experiences, which she believes were supernatural. She also suffered recurring dreams of a person being buried at the house.
Alan Bott released the latest edition of his book on St Peter and St Paul’s church – near to the site in question – last year and has visited the Station Road remains. He said: “We have in the church remains of the oldest font in England which is ninth century and we know that Godalming appears in the will of Alfred the Great circa 900. As far as I know there was never a cemetery on that side of the road but I can’t be certain of that.”
Angus Palmer, chairman of the Godalming Trust, said: “Godalming was named after a Saxon chieftain called Godhelm as a place for Godhelm’s people. Perhaps some of these people could have been Godhelm’s people.”
Councillor Keith Webster, who has responsibility for housing, said: “The discovery of these ancient bones provides us with interesting information about the settlement history of Godalming.
“We want to ensure that they are reinterred in a seemly fashion allowing us thereby to build affordable housing for future generations.”
The council anticipates that the work will be completed early next year and that construction of the new homes will start shortly after.
Alex O’Grady’s elderly mother lives in a house adjacent to the development site and said she and her neighbours were frustrated by a lack of communication from the council on what is happening at the site.
Waverley Borough Council did not confirm how many skeletons?had been discovered.