There are few things as frightening as the restless dead, and no unsolved mystery proves that better than the mysterious moving coffins of the Chase family vault.


A Tropical Paradise Is Home To A Haunting Mystery

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The Chase family vault is located in the sunny paradise of Barbados, where most tourists flock to indulge in rum, white sandy beaches, and carefree days beside the ocean. However, most locals are aware that a deeper, more frightening energy resides beneath some of the area's most treasured historical sites—including the Christ Church Parish cemetery, which is home to one of the most frightening ghost stories in Caribbean history.

The Chase Family Vault At Christ Church Parish

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The Chase family vault is located at the Christ Church Parish cemetery in Oistins, Barbados. Since the Chase family purchased the vault in the 1700s, it has been the center of several strange paranormal events. Of course, all graveyards and burial vaults are creepy, but the Chase family vault just might be home to a host of angry spirits. Over time, the vault has become the center of local paranormal lore, and the story of how the Chase family ended up dead and angry inside their vault is long, tragic, and full of mystery.

James Elliot Chase Is Buried In The Family's Vault

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The family's vault is on top of a hill overlooking the entire Caribbean. In the daytime, the gravesite is almost majestically beautiful, with lush green trees and pale grey masonic stonework. It's unclear who first constructed the vault, but it was purchased in 1724 for an elderly member of the Chase family, James Elliot Chase. The salty Barbados air already wore the vault by the time James Elliot Chase passed away. The vault was built half sunken into the ground, with the top portion of the it exposed. This opening led to a short staircase that stopped at a large blue marble slab that protected the dead body from grave robbers. When James Elliot Chase was buried in the vault, it took seven men to move the marble seal.

The Wealthy Slave Owners Were Disliked In The Community

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The members of the Chase family were incredibly wealthy, but they were deeply disliked by the Barbados community. The family members were considered too eccentric, and were known for treating their slaves with a vicious brutality. Although the vault was originally purchased for James Elliot Chase, it had already contained the coffin and dead body of a woman named Ms. Thomasina Goddard. The family decided to allow Goddard to lie at peace in the vault, and didn't disturb her body even though it had been sold along with the tomb.

The Family Mourns The Death Of A Baby

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In 1808, the same year that the most senior member of the family passed away, the family was blessed with a newborn baby named Mary-Anne Maria Chase. However, the baby died suddenly after birth, and was buried in the vault alongside her grandfather in a heavy iron casket. It's important to note that all members of the Chase family were laid to rest in extremely heavy caskets that took several men to carry. The death of the baby sparked a frightening chain of events, including the death of another child in the family, Dorcas Chase.

The Family Members Are Buried In Heavy Iron Caskets

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Dorcas Chase was just a young lady when she died under mysterious circumstances in 1812. Although she was young, her cruel and abusive father tormented her and ultimately drove her to commit suicide when he starved her to death as a punishment. Dorcas Chase was buried in a heavy iron casket and hauled down into the vault to join her infant sister and grandfather. The event was tragic, but it was far from the worst thing to happen to the family that year. Just a month after Dorcas Chase's death, her father Thomas Chase committed suicide and he too was buried in the vault. Thomas Chase had the largest coffin of them all; it weighed 240 pounds and it took eight men to move it.

Discovering A Frightening Scene In The Vault

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Upon Thomas Chase's death, things in the vault started to get pretty creepy. When the laborers moved aside the marble slab door to lay Thomas Chase to rest, they discovered that Dorcas Chase's coffin had moved. It hadn't just shifted around a little bit—the heavy coffin was sitting upright and upside down against the wall. Those moving Thomas Chase's coffin were shocked; no one knew how the coffin was maneuvered against the wall in such a manner. It was so heavy it had to have been done by several grave robbers, although the seals of the coffins were undisturbed. Curiously, the baby's coffin had also been moved against the wall.

Coffins Mysteriously On The Move

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The family brushed the event off and attributed it to vandals. They placed the coffins back in their rightful spots and resealed the vault tighter to prevent future break ins. After the incident, no one really gave the vault a second thought until another family member died in 1816. Charles Brewster Ames, who was only 11 years old, was laid to rest inside the vault, and once the family opened the seal, they quickly realized something fishy had been going on underground.

The Family Carefully Seals The Tomb

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Once again, they entered the vault only to find the coffins had been mysterious rearranged. The enormous coffins, including the 240-pound coffin containing Thomas Chase, were thrown around the room as if they were light as feathers. There was no evidence that the coffins themselves had been tampered with, so the family put them back in place and resealed the tomb.

Horror Stories About The Caskets Circulate Around Town

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After the second discovery of the restless coffins, the public started to become increasingly interested in the paranormal phenomenon happening at the Chase vault. People started to speculate about what was going on down there; theories ranged from tales of black magic, voodoo, and ghosts to a family curse. Pretty soon, the saga of the Chase family vault was fodder for campfire stories and eerie nighttime visits to the site. Some claimed that at night, shrieks and moans poured out from behind the marble seal of the vault, and others swore that the haunted vault caused their horses to go insane and drown themselves in the bay.

Governor Lord Combermere Takes Charge Of The Mystery

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After Ames's death, the vault was only opened two more times. In 1816, the family opened the vault to bury Samuel Brewster and again in 1819 to bury Thomasina Goddard. On both occasions, the vault was in total disarray with the coffins scattered around haphazardly. The family began to notice that the only coffin that never moved was that of Thomasina Goddard. Although her coffin was made out of a cheap, thin wood, the violent movement of the iron caskets never disturbed it. Before long, the governor of Barbados Lord Combermere took it upon himself to solve the mystery of the Chase family vault. He ordered a thorough inspection of the tomb, and determined that the only entrance was through the marble slab seal.

The Final Opening Of The Vault

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Lord Combermere had the caskets rearranged in a special order and covered the floor of the vault with fine grain sand to detect footprints if someone where to break in. Lord Combermere also sealed the vault with mortar and he, as well as several other important members of the society, placed special seals in wet cement around the entrance. Eight months went by before Lord Combermere couldn't stand to wait any longer; he ordered for the vault to be reopened. He and crew of men inspected the entrance of the vault, and saw that clearly no one had opened it or broken the special seals.

The Graveyard Legend Lingers On

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However, what Lord Combermere found inside the vault was far from ordinary. Thomas Chase's coffin had been pushed up tightly against the door of the vault as if to prevent entry, and it took a huge team of men to dislodge it to open the door. The coffins had once again been violently thrown around the room; the baby's casket had even been thrown against the wall so fiercely it was chipped. And, of course, there wasn't a single footprint in the sand on the floor. Lord Combermere was deeply disturbed by what he found, and ordered for all of the bodies to be exhumed and buried separately, leaving the vault empty and the mystery unsolved.