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Call for mystery surrounding King Stephen's burial place to be solved

By Danny Boyle
King Stephen was buried in Faversham Abbey but his exact location remains unknown.
King Stephen was buried in Faversham Abbey but his exact location remains unknown.

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 mystery.

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 demolished.

King Stephen was buried in Faversham Abbey - but his exact location remains unknown
King Stephen was buried in Faversham Abbey - but his exact location remains unknown

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 king.

Manager of Faversham Enterprise Partnership Laurence Young said: "It's time to get to the truth about King Stephen and his burial place.

"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 certainly.


Is Richard III’s son buried here?


"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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