Bring Out Your Dead

Before the miracle of modern medicine and universal health care, life for most was plagued by illness or the fear of it. People croaked in their beds from mundane diseases that today we pop a pill for. Many a cottage stairwell was too narrow for a coffin so some featured a trap door between floors called a ‘coffin hatch’ (or sometimes a ‘coffin drop’, for obvious reasons). This allowed the dearly departed to be laid out at the end of a bed in their Sunday best for the procession of mourners who came round for tea and sympathy. And it provided a more dignified exit to the graveyard. Much better than bouncing a stiff down the stairs.

Our cottage may no longer be an unsanitary hovel with cholera in every cup, but we’ve still got a coffin hatch, though not an original. It was constructed by the previous owner when he moved the staircase to a different part of the house. This modern hatch is just the thing for hauling up and down the big and the bulky. We’ve even hit on the idea of using the hole for a lift, as and when the stairs get too much. We’re rather taken with the thought of dying in our sleep – from old age we hope.

8 thoughts on “Bring Out Your Dead

  1. Never heard of this either – very sensible indeed! But surely you are thinking waaaay too far ahead when you speak about installing a lift! I’ll never forget a 90 year-old saying to me ‘I’d rather crawl upstairs than have a stair lift installed’. That’s the way I want to be when I’m 90.

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  2. Amazing. What a feature….when we chipped the plaster off our house we found an ancient “shower” in a corner, complete with a shelf to put your soap. Must have been 150 years old. They must have used a hosepipe.

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