Lady Fenwick and Tomb Hill

Tomb Hill, pre-1870

Lady Fenwick was originally buried on a gentle rise called Tomb Hill overlooking the Connecticut River close to what is now the parking lot for Saybrook Point's Pashabeshauke Pavilion . The mounds seen in the photograph above were glacial deposits similar to those that exist throughout Old Saybrook's Long Island Sound shorefront between Fenwick and Cornfield Point. Old records indicate that her grave was located approximately 40 rods from the water, which equates to approximately 120 feet.

Her remains rested there for the next 225 years (note that she is said to have died in 1645 shortly after giving birth to Dorothy, her second daughter, not 1648 as was later inscribed on her monument). During 1870, because the railroad was set to extend the rail line from Saybrook Junction to Saybrook Point and then on to the Borough of Fenwick, the elevated bluffs had to be removed to level the area. Along with the bluffs, Lady Fenwick's tomb had to be relocated as well. The photo above and below right show the original location of her grave atop Tomb Hill before it was moved to Cypress Cemetery in 1870.

Lady Fenwick's Tomb on Tomb Hill

In a 1988 newspaper article, local historian, high school teacher and well known storyteller Larry Reney speculated about four mysteries that were said to have surrounded the death of Lady Fenwick. The first two mysteries were her date of death and the likely cause, referred to above. A third mystery was the fact that when she was disinterred in 1870, the middle joint of her pinky finger was said to be missing. It was later presumed that a "passer-by" (curious, a "passer-by" at the disinterrment of the historic Lady Fenwick?) pilfered the joint (note that the Old Saybrook Historical Society is in possession of two locks of Lady Alice's hair, locks that were taken at the time of her disinterrment).

A fourth mystery was a little more unsettling. When Lady Fenwick was disinterred and her bones removed for the purpose of being wired together prior to reburial in her present location in Cypress Cemetery, a townsperson was said to have noticed what they described as "scratch marks" on the inside of the lid of the coffin (other accounts indicate that after 225 years of burial, Lady Fenwick's coffin had all but disintegrated leaving no lid to inspect, which seems like a more plausible story). Mr. Reney noted that her hands were said to have been found calmly folded across her chest and had she been alive, rigor mortis would have caused her hands and arms to be in some other position, presumably upright, and not folded as they were. Less was known about "medical death" at that time, so it was thought to have been possible. That is why the tradition of wakes became popular - if the deceased was not dead, the period between what was thought to be death and the burial would be long enough for the person to "wake up" before being buried alive.