We Came Across Spike Milligan By Chance

Rye 16th century cottages
Nothing too dramatic today as far as coincidences go but it's another small personal experience from one of our holidays.

We were staying in a 16th century cottage in Rye, East Sussex, England. That's the row of cottages at the front of the photo above. This was taken from the church bell tower opposite.

One day my wife and I set off for a long walk heading in the direction of the sea. As we crossed some open fields I started talking about Spike Milligan, a British/Irish comedian, writer, actor, musician and poet who died back in 2002. Nothing specific, just general chat as we walked. I'd always liked Spike's work, he made me laugh.

After crossing the fields I wasn't too sure which way to head but saw a sign saying Winchelsea, so I suggested we went in that direction. As we approached the village it was highish on a hill and looked to be old and interesting.

We made our way through the old gatehouse and into the village. It was typically, old fashioned England with a big church in the centre (photo below). Though I don't belong to any organised religion I like churches: the way they feel, the atmosphere inside and so on. They are usually full of history.

Winchelsea church
We spent an age in the church and my wife even made a 'rainbow' woollen bracelet, which she attached to her rucksack. As we were leaving my wife saw a photo of Spike Milligan in the church!

Spike Milligan's graveShe beckoned me over and it was Spike's picture with directions of how to find his grave in the churchyard. This was completely unbeknown to us. We had no idea where he lived when alive or where he was buried. It seems that on his death he was living in Rye.

We found his grave outside and paid our respects. In typical Milligan humour his stone bears the words "Dúirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite". This is Irish and translates to "I told you I was ill." I have since read that the church would not allow this to be written in English.

This post was first published on my other blog 67 Not Out

Further Reading:
16th Century Cottage Coincidence Story
Dreaming The Winners Of Horse Races


  1. i was a big spike milligan fan. i had read that this was what he wanted on his grave stone. i didn't know where he lived before

    1. Thanks Tom. I think he said that he wanted this on his grave stone from way before he died. It was his sense of humour.

  2. What a neat synchro! You two were definitely in the flow that day. But I'm curious - why would the church not allow this to be written in English??

    1. The phrase wasn't considered to be in good taste but OK in Irish as not many people understand the language in England - oh, and I suppose because it was a joke!

  3. I remember dad coming home one day and telling me he had picked up Spike Milligan in his cab one day in Brisbane and that for a funny man how depressed he seemed.
    I remember how dad said they had gotten on to the subject of death and how Spike was scared to death of dying.

    Well,Spike knows all about the other side now,I guess.
    He lived most the later part of his life in Australia as I recall.
    I was never that much into Spike Milligan,so I didn't see it as a big deal when dad told me about it.
    But this story makes it a little more special now.

    1. That's interesting, Darren. Spike was a man of much depression, it seemed to hang over his life. He was a sensitive man though in many ways: his poetry, music and humour. He always made me laugh.