A gravestone in St Laurence’s church at the small village of Rushton Spencer faces West instead of East unlike the other gravestones to be found there. On the gravestone can be found an inscription which has a mixture of Latin, English and Greek which reads as follows:
Memento Mori (be mindful of death)
Thomas, son of Thomas and Mary Meaykin
Interred 16 July 1781, aged 21 years
As a man falleth before wicked men, so fell I.
Bia Thanates (death of violence)
This poor person went from Rushton to stone in Staffordshire and became a houseboy to an Apothecary. The story tells that this boy became affectionate with his bosses daughter or possibly his wife. Quite suddenly Thomas became ill and just as suddenly died, he was then buried in St Michael’s church churchyard in Stone on 16th July 1781. It is said that Thomas’s favourite donkey made its way to the graveyard and began to scrape away the soil on top of his grave with its hoof. Even though Thomas’s death was suspicious it would be a full 12 months before an exhumation was ordered.
Thomas’s grave at Rushton church
When the body was finally exhumed it was found to be lying face down in the coffin, yet when the body had been placed in the coffin it was in a face up position. Had the Apothecary administered some type of drug to Thomas which had slowed his life signs to such a point that it would appear that he had died, only to re-awaken to find that he had been buried alive. No one stood trial for his murder and his remains were taken to Rushton church and reburied, his grave was positioned the wrong way round in the hope that this would stop his ghost from wandering.
It is thought that the place where Rushton church stands would have been a place of pre-Christian worship. Also another legend which is connected with this church is the belief that three giants are said to be buried beneath its floor and are also said to be clad in full armour!