The Watford Observer has teamed up with Watford Museum and its curator Sarah Priestley to take a journey back to the town’s past through items or places of historical significance.

The tenth item in ‘a history of Watford in 50 objects' is a spooky choice for Halloween - the Fig Tree Tomb.

Sarah said: "The Fig Tree Tomb was a Victorian tourist attraction for visitors to Watford.

"In those days it was a strange sight – set against the wall of St Mary’s Church the heavy stone lid of this ornate tomb was pushed up at an unnatural angle by a fig tree growing from within.

"The story was told that it was an atheist who had been buried there who throughout their life they had argued about the existence of god.

"To end the argument once and for all they asked that something be placed in their tomb with them when they died. If it germinated it would be a sign they were wrong, and of course a beautiful fig tree grew from their heart, bursting open the tomb and proving everlasting life."

Read more: Acknowledging the history of Watford's first black family

Sarah added: "The story is unlikely to have any truth in it – more likely the story developed to explain the unsettling disturbance of the tomb by a tree growing up through it.

"For generations the story was used to scare local children until the fig tree was lost to frost in the 1960s, and you can still find postcards for sale online of ‘The Witch’s Tomb’."

Watford Museum has reopened to the public. You can visit on Saturdays at present with pre-booking essential. Housed in the former Benskins Mansion, the Grade II listed building holds treasures of Watford history from Cassiobury to printing to Watford Football Club. To find out more, visit