Builders had a surprise when they dug up the bones of two adults and a child.
The family, which had been buried together, was uncovered during preparation work for the new annex at the Church of St Mary Our Lady in Sidlesham.
Although it was known the area behind the church, where the annex is being built, was part of the original churchyard, the discovery of the grave was unexpected.
The gravestones had been removed and the grave positions recorded ten years ago, so the discovery of an additional grave uncovered a bit of a mystery.
A wedding ring was also found and dated to the 1880s but the archaeologist involved has advised it may not necessarily belong to this grave.
Lesley Bromley, on behalf of the congregation, said: “Imagine the surprise of the builders as they opened a previously unmarked grave to find the bones of two adults and a child, who had all been buried together. We have no idea who these people were.
“The congregation of St Mary’s was very moved by the finding of this little family. Mr Ron Pickering constructed a casket to contain their remains, Father Stephen Guise added a crucifix to the box, and then we placed the box containing the remains in our Lady Chapel prior to their reinterment on Sunday morning.”
At the end of the Eucharist, the casket was carried from the church by four members of the congregation, while the choir sang the Nunc Dimittis setting by Stanford in C.
At the graveside, Father Stephen said the prayers of committal and the casket was lowered into its new resting place.
Lesley said: “Our mystery family may never be named but they are part of our community, now resting in a new place.”