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In Pictures: A visit to the ‘Floating Coffin’ of Pinner

Consecrated in 1320, St John The Baptist Church in Pinner is a particularly pretty church and, as well as many gravestones dating back to the 1600s, the churchyard also features one of London’s most curious tombs. In this article, we’re going  to be taking a look at the floating coffin of Pinner.

At the end of Church Lane, St John The Baptist stands sentry over the bustling street. Distinctive due to its blue and gold clock face and tall cross the church boasts a small churchyard accessible by a short set of steps. Turn right as you enter the churchyard and then left and you’ll come across the floating coffin.

In Pictures: A visit to the 'Floating Coffin' of Pinner Harrow Online
Image: Nicci Rae

This curious tomb is home to William and Agnes Loudon and features a triangular stone structure with a semicircular grill and what is, essentially, a stone coffin running through the structure from front to back.

The front of the ‘coffin’ features a stone plaque which commemorates William who died in 1809 and his wife Agnes who passed away in 1941 as well as the curious phrase “I byde my time.”

Who lies in a grave like this?

The story goes that the Loudons inherited a significant amount of money which would be paid to them in instalments for as long as they were ‘above ground’. Following their deaths, their son, John Claudius Loudon – who would become a renowned landscaper and cemetery designer – designed this peculiar grave for his parents.

In Pictures: A visit to the 'Floating Coffin' of Pinner Harrow Online
Image: Nicci Rae

Some people believe that the levitated coffin was a sneaky way of keeping the Loudons above ground – thereby allowing their son to keep receiving the inheritance payments.

This, however, is unlikely to be the case as the couple are actually buried within the moment rather than inside the floating coffin.

Similarly, some believe that the phrase ‘I byde my time’ also refers to the inheritance payments, however, it’s highly likely that this is, instead, referring to the dead rising on the day of judgement.

In terms of the tomb’s design, it’s likely that John Claudius chose to elevate his parents to signify their importance – i.e. being ‘above’ the other parishioners.

In Pictures: A visit to the 'Floating Coffin' of Pinner Harrow Online
Image: Nicci Rae

Paying St John a visit

Whatever the real story, if you find yourself in Pinner, the church and churchyard are well worth a visit. Tranquil and picturesque, the cemetery features lots of old and extremely interesting stones and tombs including, of course, the floating coffin.