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Author Topic: The Sussex Giant  (Read 168 times)
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Pete
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« on: February 03, 2017, 14:52:59 PM »

DEATH OF A SUSSEX GIANT A shocking case of sudden death has occurred at Appledore. It being club-day, a man named Charles Coulcraft, aged 30, was exhibiting in a booth as the Sussex Giant. He weighed, it was said, 31st. 10lb. Coulcraft was born at Petworth, Sussex, and worked there for years as a blacksmith. He bad been living for some time at Faversham, and a publican of that town started with him recently on an exhibiting tour, the first place at which they stopped being Tenterden, on the occasion of the fair. The giant had exhibited himself to one or two parties of sightseers, and in one of the intervals he dozed in a chair, an occurrence, it seemed, by no means uncommon. At length the man who was showing him tried to arouse him for another entertainment, and then came out, saying "I can't wake the Colonel." Mr. Terry, surgeon, was fetched, and at once pronounced that the giant was dead. Heart-disease was, beyond question, the cause of death


Pontypridd Chronicle 14/5/1886
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Sussex Bonfire - a way of life, not just for Nov 5th
Craggs
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« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2017, 15:57:12 PM »

I'm searching the newspaper archives for any account of his funeral.....  or how they got him to any sort of grave ! 
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alkhamhills
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« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2017, 20:03:48 PM »

I had a look for him in the BMD records. Not there
I also had a look for him in 1861, 1871, 1881 census. Not there
So I wonder if Charles Coulcraft was his proper name, or was it a "stage" name
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Craggs
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« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2017, 20:53:28 PM »

I can't find any reference to his funeral.  

Must have taken a lot of men to dig a grave big enough to fit such a large being.    The logistics of getting a 30 + stone "dead weight"  to a grave would put modern day man in difficulty - probably would use three fire engine crews, a couple of cranes and a JCB.   

Appledore is a very beautiful small village and there must be reference to this 'person' there.  Next time I'm there I'll have a look - they certainly couldn't have moved him very far.
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Monkton Malc
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« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2017, 23:39:30 PM »


Must have taken a lot of men to dig a grave big enough to fit such a large being.    The logistics of getting a 30 + stone "dead weight"  to a grave would put modern day man in difficulty - probably would use three fire engine crews, a couple of cranes and a JCB.   


Not as hard as you might think.
I was involved in the burial of a large person who was 40 stone. Two of us dug the grave in a morning (by hand) and there were 8 pallbearers. The grave was only 6 feet from the road so not too far to carry the coffin.  The only other difference was they used four ropes to lower the coffin instead of the usual two. 
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Craggs
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« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2017, 08:17:11 AM »

Monkton Malk...  I'm impressed !  That must have been quite a task...... and there must have been quite a lot of soil left over after the grave was filled in - or a very big mound on top.

I eventually found a reference to The Sussex Giant's funeral.  Those responsible for his funeral used more than just ropes to lower him down !!! - which, as inappropriate as it may be, I found quite amusing........ the first bit of the article is more or less the same as Pete's original post, with the funeral bit added at the end........ enjoy !!

Kent & Sussex Courier - Friday 14 May 1886

DEATH OF A SUSSEX GIANT.  A shocking case of sudden death occurred at Appledore in Kent, on Thursday afternoon.  It being club-day, a man named Charles Coulcraft, aged 36, was exhibiting in a booth as The Sussex Giant.  He weighed, it was said, 39st 10lb.  Coulcraft was born at Petworth, Sussex and worked there for years as a blacksmith.  He had been living for some time at Faversham and a publican of that town started with him recently on an exhibiting tour through Kent,, the first place at which they stopped being Tenterden, on the occasion of the fair on Monday.  On Thursday the giant had exhibited himself to one or two parties of sightseers, and in one of the intervals he dozed in a chair, an occurrence, it seemed, by no means uncommon.  At length the man who was showing him tried to rouse him for another entertainment, and then came out saying "I can't wake the Colonel".  Mr Terry, surgeon, attended and at once pronounced that the giant was dead. Heat disease was, beyond question, the cause of death.

An inquest was held on Saturday, before George Hinds Esq., coroner for The Weald of Kent.  Mr J. Garside Terry, surgeon, said he was called to the deceased, whom he found sitting in a chair dead.  He made a post-mortem examination and found that death resulted from disease of the heart.  A verdict was returned accordingly.  The deceased was buried immediately after the inquest in Appledore churchyard.  His coffin was of extraordinary dimensions, and more resembled a van in width and depth than a coffin.  Cross beams with ropes and pulleys had to be erected to lower the coffin into the grave, and a large number of men had to be employed to convey it to the churchyard, the weight being over five cwt.
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John
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« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2017, 09:29:07 AM »

Interesting report from the funeral, well done on finding it. It'd be interesting to see if there's a marker for his grave at Appledore.

He was still only a lightweight compared to Thomas Longley  Grin
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Pete
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« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2017, 09:47:27 AM »

Looks to be Charles CHALCRAFT. Death registered Tenterden Q2. Probably born Petworth   1871 sees him as a Constable at Portsea. There is also a Charles b Fittleworth 1849 but he dies 15 years later
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Craggs
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« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2017, 20:46:47 PM »

The Sussex Giant is certainly buried in Appledore Churchyard - I went there today with my wife and , with some brilliant help , found his resting place - but he does not have a headstone or marker.  His name, according to church records, was Charles Chalcroft.

The Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul, Appledore, has one of the most detailed plans and records of those buried in the churchyard that I have come across.  Every grave is recorded by row and grave number and then transposed onto a map of the whole of the Church, Churchyard and grounds.

My wife and I searched the Churchyard for about half an hour looking for Charles Coulcraft or Charles Chalcraft - the two names featured in our Forum topic.  It isn't a massive churchyard but our search didn't result in anything close to positive - then, around the small narrow side of the churchyard we came across a man painting the railings of an enclosed tomb. We related the tale of The Sussex Giant to him but, although he did a lot of the churchyard maintenance,  he hadn't heard of him.  This gentleman did, however, point us in the direction of a lady who lived next to the church and said that she knew everything there is to know about the church and churchyard - and so she did.

The next hour was spent in the company of Anne, a Lady who was entertaining beyond belief.  We were shown a register of every burial in the churchyard, then an alphabetical list of the names, year of death, age at death and row/grave number.  Anne then showed us the map of the churchyard with the individual graves marked upon it.  Those with a headstone or marker were in capitals and those with no marker were in lower case.  

We went through the alphabetical list and there was no "Charles Coulcraft".  There was , however, "Charles Chalcroft, buried 1886 aged 37 years, Row 11, grave 3" - and going on Pete's last post I am certain that this is our Sussex Giant.  Armed with this information we had another lovely walk through the churchyard with Anne.

Anne explained that our task would have been a lot easier before the grave markers were all stolen.  She explained that every grave used to have a small iron numerical marker , but someone had crept into the churchyard and every one had been stolen ( insert appropriate swear word !!! ).

After a short time we managed to work out Charles Chalcroft's resting place.  Row 11 starts by the hedge and begins with the double grave of the Marchant family. Chalcroft is the next one away from the hedge. There are a few very identifiable graves in this area and using them and the churchyard map we managed to verify that this was Chalcroft's grave.

The attached photographs shows the hedge with the square plot of the double Marchant graves, the Marchants have a kerb surround and small 6" pillars on each corner and a wooden 'trough' in the middle.  Chalcroft is directly adjacent - the next grave as you come away from the hedge line, albeit not marked, .  I've cropped the photographs so that Charles Chalcroft's grave is exactly in the middle of the pictures.  I've also added a picture of the alphabetical list - sorry about the angle but it is screwed to the wall with the churchyard map and that's the best I could do.

A massive thank you to Anne.  I do have her full name and address and I said I would print off the newspaper articles for her and also our Forum link which she can get one of her friends with a computer to look up for her.  What a lovely Lady. I'll send her a bunch of flowers too.

Appledore is a beautiful little village.  My wife and I have been there many times and it is really lovely.  It was very quiet today - but in the summertime it is extremely busy, but if you are in that part of the world it is well worth stopping for an hour.

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Man of Kent1
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« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2017, 23:07:41 PM »

Well done, Craggs! Smiley
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John
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« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2017, 08:36:10 AM »

Great detective work from everyone, I do enjoy topics like this that get people involved. Noel, as well as thanks to you and your good lady, I'd like to thank Anne as well - please pass it on!
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alkhamhills
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« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2017, 09:18:50 AM »

from little acorns-------.
well done Pete & Craggs & Mrs Craggs

 A nice "obituary" for the Giant
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Craggs
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« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2017, 16:22:40 PM »

Grateful for the nice comments.............

I'm very grateful to Pete for starting this topic - .........  Pete, you have no idea how many brownie points I got from taking my wife, Lynne, out for a day in Appledore, a lovely drive through the countryside, hot coffee and cake in the tea-room and then a walk through the beautiful village and churchyard - many thanks  Grin

John, ....... I will certainly pass on your thanks.  Lynne bought a nice card today and we will post it to Anne with the print-off bits and a few other small additions enclosed.  I'm sure that this story and a reference to the Forum will appear in the Parish magazine some time this side of Summer.

I enjoyed this topic very much.......... maybe more to follow in due course

Noel
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