Restoration of Tombs
Last year a survey of the tombs/headstones was done in the churchyard at Ruan Lanihorne and several were identified as needing some work done on them. It was decided to tackle ten of the oldest ones first and so the process of getting a faculty began. Photographs were taken of their present state, a summary of the work needed, a statement of how the work would be done, a risk assessment, an estimate of the cost and finally to search for a relative to gain permission. I had thought that it would be quite difficult to find a relative but actually I was able to do this fairly quickly. The faculty was now applied for and eventually we received a visit from a diocesan representative to have a look at the proposed work. He was very helpful and earlier this year we got the go ahead.
At the beginning of September the stone masons arrived to start work on the Luke vault in the north corner of the churchyard. Many visitors have asked whether this was an air raid shelter and have been directed to the plaque in the transept. The plaque tells us that nine members of the Luke family are within, Mary Luke 19th October 1800, sister Elizabeth 22nd October 1807, brother John 3rd November 1807, sister Jennifer 2nd January 1792, sister-in-law Mary 5th December 1813, sister Martha 20th March 1816, brother William (vice admiral) 19th December 1818, sister Susanna 8th August 1819 and sister Ann 27th December 1819. Three of the sisters were married but their husbands were not interred with them. Susanna’s husband Richard Thomas was buried in Veryan and is mentioned on a plaque there along with his first wife Abigail. I also wonder whether Jennifer is interred as she also has a headstone in the transept next to their parents John and Elizabeth Luke. The Luke family lived at Treviles.
The exact date of construction is not known but we do know from the will of Ann Luke that the vault was erected by her brother John Luke. I suspect that as Jennifer had a headstone in the church that it was probably built after 1792 and before 1807 when John died. It is also the will of Ann Luke that bequeaths to the church the sum of two hundred pounds in trust for the interest thereof to be used “for the proper repair of the said Monument,” unfortunately this bequest now would not cover the cost of paint.
The vault has a granite barrel top with stone sides surrounded by iron railings and over the years vegetation has caused a considerable amount of damage to the top. Before work was started permission had been sort to open the vault to ensure that the inside was sound and this was the first thing to be done. A small opening was made in the bricked up entrance. On inspection it was found that the inside had a brick barrel ceiling with stalactites of lime hanging down, the walls had been lime plastered and two coffins on a wood floor. For many years it had been conjectured that with the number interred the coffins must be stacked on either side but as only two could be seen it is now speculated that the remaining members are stacked below the wooden floor which was higher than the bottom of the entrance. The inspection found the inside was in extremely good condition and so work could be started on the outside. The opening was resealed.
Firstly the vegetation was removed and then they slowly removed each granite block from the top, carefully placing them on the grass in the order they came off. The next job was to remove the several inches of soil that had built up over the years from beneath these stones. When this had been cleaned up it showed that there was a layer of stone and lime mortar. With this now all cleared they started to reinstate the granite blocks on a layer of lime mortar, while this set they started to clean out the stone sides ready to re-point. The whole of the vault was re-pointed where needed and the final job was to take off the rust on the railings and then paint them. The metal entrance gate needed some repair and went off to be welded; this will be painted as well on its return.
The next tombs to be restored are the Blamey table top tombs by the porch.