Houghton Regis Heritage Society Geophysical Survey

All Saints Church

The floor of the Chancel, and in front of the altar, in All Saints Church, Houghton Regis is covered with 24 tombstones of members of the Brandreth family dating from the mid-17th Century to the 19th Century. The Brandreth family played an important role in Houghton Regis from the 17th to the 20th century.

Plan of the Brandreth Tombstones
Mary Brandreth
Toswithian Brandreth
Alice Brandreth
Solomon Brandreth
Toswithian Brandreth
Altar Rail
Isabella Brandreth
Nehemiah Brandreth
Henry Brandreth
Alice Milard
William Milard
Alice Brandreth
Ann Kesterman
Rebbeca Brandreth
Nehemiah Brandreth
Henry Brandreth
Henry Brandreth
Ingham Price
Alice Brandreth
Nehemiah Brandreth
Humphrey Brandreth

It was not known if there is a crypt below the church containing the remains of the Brandreths. The Houghton Regis Heritage Society, researching the history of the Brandreth family, and Michael Hunt, from the church Parochial Parish Council (PPC), considered it an important part of the research to discover if there is a vault and to document the tombstones to provide a public record.

The Heritage Society sought permission from the PPC to carry out a ground penetrating radar geophysical survey of the chancel. The church readily agreed to this.

Pictures on this page are copyright

Allied Associates (c) 2015.

In her book “Royal Houghton”, Pat Lovering writes: “All over the chancel at All Saints are memorial marbles to the Brandreth family who were buried in the family vault under the sanctuary. This vault has been sealed for over 100 years and has been replaced by a brick vault outside the east wall.” (see the photographs below)

The survey was carried out in May 2015 by Norman Bell of Allied Associates Ltd (Geophysical Instrumentation Specialists) based in Blackburn Road Houghton Regis.

 The results support the presence of burials under 24 of the stones.

However under one tombstone (Nehemiah Brandreth who died in 1719) there was no evidence of ground disturbance. The reason for this is unknown.

The Society and the church are delighted with the survey but, as always, it raises questions for the Society’s Historian to ponder over.
The results have been published in a book by the Heritage Society – “Houghton Regis and All Saints Church – A History”, which can be purchased from the Society


The outside scan  is over the slab running west to east.
The colours indicate the strength of the reflected radar signals helping the eye to see structure.
On the outside scan (bottom right) the top bands are are simply highlighting the slab.
The sloping “V” sign is actually the vertical walls of the grave.
The overall grave presence can be seen to be different from the surrounding soil, which is un-disturbed.

The deeper responses could be from a coffin or burial casket. The responses are very strong so could possibly be from a lead casket.
This is not certain but the reflections are not from the water table as these signatures are not in the surrounding soil.