St Blaise, 13c Church, Haccombe, South Devon UK.
Where the heart is:
Our British country churches are repositories of historical artefacts and family history. One of my local churches here in South Devon is the 13c St Blaise Church, Haccombe, with a strong association with the Carew family. The small church has an interesting interior particularly the medieval floor tiles and tombs. It was built in 1233 by Sir Stephen de Haccombe on his return from the Fifth Crusade. It was not uncommon in medieval days for the deceased’s heart to be buried separately from the body especially when a knight who fell in battle, say in the crusades, could not be repatriated to his homeland. It was much easier to return the heart and because of the reverence associated with the heart’s attributes, courage, affection and soul, it was not considered an unusual practice. (For example, the heart of Henry I was buried at Rouen Cathedral but his body is interred in Reading Abbey.) The heart burial tomb of Edward Courtenay is in St Blaise beneath an alabaster effigy.