Call for mystery surrounding King Stephen's burial place to be solved
King Stephen was buried in Faversham Abbey - but his
exact location remains unknown
by Lauren Fruen
After the discovery of Richard III in a Leicestershire car park
attention, has now turned to Faversham's very own monarch
The unlikely burial ground of another former king of England may
be much closer to home as legend has it a medieval king's bones
could be in our town.
The body of King Stephen - along with his wife Queen
Matilda and son Eustace - were buried in the grounds of the
former Faversham Abbey church in 1154.
The Abbey was dissolved in 1538 by Henry VIII and most of it was
However, after an excavation of the site in 1964 the empty
graves of King Stephen and his family were found.
Legend has it their bones were thrown into Faversham Creek when
the building was dismantled.
However, the exact location of his skeleton remains shrouded in
mystery as rumours circulated that a canopy tomb with no
contemporary inscription in nearby Faversham Parish Church of St
Mary of Charity could now be home to the bones.
Dennis Parrett, church warden at St Mary of Charity, said:
"There is a tomb in the church with a plaque to indicate he is
buried nearby but no one knows exactly where.
"Local legend suggests it may be the king's final resting place.
It certainly would be exciting if we could prove it but I think we
would need a living descendent to prove it through DNA."
Local historian Arthur Percival said: "The legend is that the
bones were rescued from the Creek after they'd been dumped there
when the Abbey Church, where he and Matilda were buried, was
demolished in 1538."
Now there are calls for Faversham to find its long lost
Manager of Faversham Enterprise Partnership Laurence Young said:
"It's time to get to the truth about King Stephen and his burial
"The worldwide interest in Richard III has been colossal and,
while Stephen doesn't have his profile as a leading historic
figure, he is one of very few English kings whose fate is not known
"Also, the civil war known as the Anarchy that Stephen fought
against Empress Matilda had a huge impact on the way the country
developed, but is little known today. As Stephen’s favoured town
and site of his dynastic abbey Faversham was at the very centre of
the national events of the day.
"It seems to me the local church has shied away from doing
anything much about the reburial claim.
"But, from a national perspective it is something that ought to
be investigated and settled one way or the other."
Faversham Abbey was founded in 1147 by King Stephen and his
wife. The site was just to the north east of the town, where the
playing fields of Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School are now.
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