Spike Milligan in the Rye area.

ONE of the most famous tombstones in the country has been restored to Winchelsea Churchyard after an absence of more than a year.

Spike Milligan’s gravestone bears what was voted as the nation’s favourite epitaph earlier this year.

In accordance with the comic’s wishes the stone reads “See I told you I was ill!” but is written in Gaelic.

The headstone was removed when Spike’s third wife Shelagh was buried alongside him in June 2011,

It could not go back for several weeks because the grave needed time to settle, but that was more than a year ago and the stone, indicating his resting place, remained absent, with the executor of Shelagh’s will blaming a ‘breakdown in communication’.

The stone was then said to have been at the centre of a family dispute.

The Observer’s Winchelsea correspondent Cindi Cogswell said: “The headstone has now been replaced and Shelagh’s name is on it.

“This will please the visitors and Spike enthusiasts to Winchelsea who have come and gone over the year, somewhat disappointed by the absence of the headstone.

“The location of the grave is easy to find; it is beneath the tree opposite the church door, within a distance of about three metres.”

Spike was a popular figure in the Rye area and often opened charity events in the area.

Spike died from liver disease in February 2002 at the age of 83. His funeral service took place at St Anthony’s Catholic Church in Rye.

He lived at Dumb Woman’s Lane, Udimore, in a house called Carpenters Meadow which was designed by 60’s architect CP McLaughlin.

He described his home as “the ugliest house in the world” and erected an alternative house name - The Blind Architect.

Asked by Paul Merton, when he appeared on the television programme Room 101, if there was anything he could do to improve his house, Milligan replied: “You could set fire to it.”

Spike once joined Sir Paul McCartney in a public march through the streets of Rye to protest against plans to close Rye Hospital.

He also supported a successful campaign which saw a new state-of-the-art hospital being built on the site.