Burial shock at St Juliot luxury home site
BUILDERS digging the foundations for a luxury bungalow in North Cornwall got a shock when their excavations uncovered a coffin with a man's body inside.
The discovery was made at a remote spot at St Juliot, high on the cliffs between Boscastle and Crackington Haven.
Police have confirmed that the death is not being treated as suspicious and that the man died of natural causes.
Rumours have been circulating of bodies being buried in the area 70 years ago – which the police say may have been started deliberately in an attempt to prevent the house being built.
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The body is believed to be that of a man who died in 2009 and stipulated in his will that he wanted to be laid to rest in the field near Newton Farm, looking towards spectacular views at High Cliff.
He is believed to have once lived there and to have asked the previous woman owner of the land for permission to be buried there.
She agreed to his request and after he died the burial was carried out by an undertaker in the field, with what those involved believed were the required permissions.
There is some debate over whether the procedures were correct and the police described their interest as an investigation into an illegal burial.
There is no one on the site at the moment, but a sign at the entrance warns people against trespassing.
A bungalow with an agricultural condition, meaning that only someone working on the land can live in it, was built about ten years ago.
The agricultural condition has now been lifted and the land sold to a severely disabled man and his partner, who wanted their new home to include specialised facilities such as an underground garage.
It was while contractors were beginning to prepare the site that a coffin was found on December 11.
Work was stopped immediately while police investigated, and the builders have still not returned.
A police spokesman said they had gone there following the discovery of a coffin and being told the rumours about other bodies being buried there, including that of a woman.
"The man whose body was found did not have a wife," the spokesman said.
"He had left a will stipulating that he should be buried there. There is nothing untoward whatsoever.
"The coffin is still in situ and his body will be relocated, probably to a cemetery, when the necessary paperwork has been completed. The council's environmental health department will probably supervise the exhumation of the body and its reburial.
"As it's in a very wet area of land – a massive mudbath – the coffin has deteriorated badly.
"The new owners didn't know the coffin was there until the builders came across it. Now they want to get on with building their home.
"We understand some local farmers wanted to graze animals on the land and objected to a property being built there, so it may be that the story of bodies buried there started because of that."