Friday, September 21, 2012

Six-Feet-Down-Under: St Stephen's Graveyard, Newtown

The graveyard surrounding St Stephen's Anglican Church in Newtown is also known as the Camperdown Cemetery, even though it is just a small portion of the original Camperdown Cemetery, established in the 1840s, and the recipient of some of the removals from the Devonshire Street Cemetery when that cemetery closed in about 1900. On the map down below, the entire park greensward was the original Camperdown Cemetery, but in 1938 everything outside the sandstone walls of St Stephen's was removed, and most ungraciously at that. Headstones are laid along the inside of the sandstone walls to this day. Many of the remains ... remained; unless individual families wished to reinter their ancestors in either Waverley Cemetery, Botany Cemetery, or Rookwood Necropolis.

It does have a great feel to it, this graveyard. Dark and gloomy. And unlike nearly any other cemetery I have visited in Australia, most of which are like and airy, with neatly trimmed lawns and riots of cut flowers. St Stephen's is populated with great, gnarled Port Jackson fig trees, their roots twisting and turning into the soil, and their massive canopies blocking out the sun and the air, with a shadow that admonishes the merest sliver of grass that pokes it head out of the compacted clay. Moisture lies in the uneven ground, mud sloshes, and mould and fungi flourish. All of which has a predictable affect upon sandstone, which is a porous rock to begin with. I have tried to show this aspect of St Stephen's with my selection of images.

View Larger Map

View Larger Map

This is not to condemn this cemetery, which has a piercing beauty which I have described in an earlier post on another blog. It is an engagingly historic graveyard, with memorials not only from Devonshire Street but also from the original Old Burial Ground at the Town Hall. Many of the memorial are sans remains, but the feel of the place is authentic. And there is also St Stephen's, the building. I am but a little old lady, with a stick, and noone thinks twice when I sidle into a church doorway. And I am left in peace, to wander and wonder. As I did on this earlier occasion when the only people around was a bunch of electricians.

I continue to return to Camperdown Cemetery for personal reasons. To endeavour to locate the memorial to Ann Maund, which is prone and has not disclosed it resting place to me in my three previous visits. Darn it! Ann Maund is my 4x-great-grandmother on my mother's side. And a tough old biddy she apparently was. She arrived in the colony with her convict husband, Joseph Puckeridge, in 1801, her two children dying on the journey. When Joseph died in 1818, having 7 young children, she quickly married again, had three more children and died in 1850, aged 71. I have seen a photograph of her memorial, but not seen it with my own eyes yet. But I will, I will ... eventually.


Kate said...

I particularly like the two headstones above the maps and the last one. Demonstates the age and darkness. Today is the International Day of Peace (9/21/12) May you and your country know and enjoy peace.

Nicola Carpenter said...

Truly fabulous pictures. It looks like a fantastic cemetery to while away the hours. Fantastic cannon and I love the yellow lychen.

Beneath Thy Feet

Joan Elizabeth said...

I love your descriptino and the bottom shot in particular. A 4 x Great in Australia ... that's quite a feat ... the most I manage is 3 x great.

Bernadette said...

Hello Julie,
Perhaps you have found her in the year or so since your post, but if not I can tell you where to look.