Friday, September 14, 2012

Six-Feet-Down-Under : Manly Cemetery

This little handkerchief of a burial ground was probably way out in the boon docks when it was established in 1872. Although, Jane McLean's monument went up in 1863, and there is a charming story of a birder stumbling across a rough-hewn cross for an infant c.1861. It is small and rectangular, perhaps a normal suburban block. But it is still in use, although only cremations and burial in existing plots is any longer permitted. It is similar to Gore Hill Cemetery in that regard. Both established in the middle of the 19th century.

It is divided into religious demoninations, as were all cemeteries of that era. Christian religious demoninations, you realise. The protties and the micks. Those that protested against the ruling Protestants (eg Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists) were begrudgingly allocated a General section. One only has to look at the dedications on the headstones to be fully aware when one moves from one section to the next. This is a relatively austere cemetery, meaning devoid of excessive decoration. There are a few angels and Marys but it gives every indication that the people who chose to spend eternity in this burial ground knew the value of money and the necessity of hard work, and kept their ego well in check.

View Larger Map

View Larger Map

Once again, this cemetery was the recipient of a removal from the old Devonshire Street Cemetery which made way for Central Railway Station in the first few years of the 20th century. One William Aberdeen who died in 1845 was reinterred here in Manly in 1899. There are a number of headstones that were instantly memorable and which I will research in more detail as time goes on. The stonemasons were mostly journeymen, judging from their finished product. George Watters’ monumental mason’s yard operated on the corner of Griffiths and Hill Streets, opposite the cemetery from around 1920; his name is carved on several headstones. The Pickworths had their masons’ yard in Harland Street from the 1930s.

The burial ground is now under the care of the Manly Council. Unlike the old Balmain Burial Ground out in Leichhardt, which was turned into a Pioneers' Park during the years of WW2, Manly Cemetery has a long way to go to be mothballed. They are still taking ashes and bodies for burial. The grass is mowed, and the memorials are kept secure. There is some destruction as you can see in the images, but this could be the result of erosion and weather, rather than vandalism. But there is little in the way of decoration; few flowers; fewer vases. It is kept tidy, without being loved.


Ann said...

Didn't know there was a Manly Cemetery. Like the look of it with all the trees.

Nicola Carpenter said...

Fascinating post. What a wonderful cemetery to take a wander round. Is that a pair of exposed boobies on that lady? How very un-Victorian.

Beneath Thy Feet