Local News

Body of State's First Episcopal Bishop Discovered Under Raleigh Church

Posted December 11, 2000 6:00 a.m. EST

— For years, historians and members of a local church have tried to solve a mystery. They had looked for, but never found, the body of Jack Stark Ravenscroft, the first Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. No one knew exactly where he was buried until now.

The whereabouts of the state's first Episcopal Bishop were literally uncovered last week when workers were removing stones under the sanctuary floor of Raleigh's Christ Church.

"At first, I didn't know it was a grave until we pulled the top off and looked down there and saw the outline of the body," says construction worker Randy Harmless.

For years, there were clues to where the Bishop was buried. A marker outside the church says 50 yards south.

Legend says Ravenscroft, nicknamed "Mad Jack," used to race his horses around the state capitol just across the street from the church.

"I expect he earned the title, 'Mad Jack,' very well and probably took some of that wonderful energy into the priesthood, and to the episcopate as he became the first bishop of North Carolina," says Rev. Winston Charles, Rector of Christ Church.

The Bishop was laid to rest, wrapped in a simple shroud. No valuables were buried with him. When the restoration inside the church is complete, a permanent marker will be placed in the floor over the crypt.