Showing posts with label cemetery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cemetery. Show all posts

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Familial and Common Graves

From :
"Familial and Common Graves When a person dies in Malta they end up either in a family or a communal grave. Family graves are seen as more respectable. Common graves (qabar komuni) are for people of a lower socio-economy class (it costs 200 euro/1000 Maltese pounds for a family grave), or for those who are not religious (Galea 2011). A family grave will normally have compartments for four or five coffins, but it can hold up to six bodies. There is space below for bones, which are put into plastic bags during “cleaning” by cemetery workers (Sean 2011). In the past flour bags were used instead. Each set of bones is then put into a box which is stored in the family grave. The boxes used to be wooden or tin, but now they use plastic (Victor 2011; and Vincent 2011). From the Hypogeum to the catacombs, communal graves have been a part of Maltese history. Graves of this nature seem to make the most sense in urbanized areas where space creates an issue. Although this is the case in cities such as Valetta, it does not apply to all of Malta, and is even less relevant in Gozo. It must therefore hold importance in the collective conscious of the people. One explanation is that a burial of this nature delivers the dead from “the isolation in which he was plunged since his death, and reunites his body with those of his ancestors” (Hertz 1960:54). Hertz is referring to a body’s transition from a temporary to a final burial place, but I believe that this is also relevant when discussing communal, at least familial, burials. Common graves may not be as respected as family graves because they contain the bodies of the poor and secular, but it may also be a result of the subconscious idea that the dead buried there are alone. This may be why, after two years, the bones from common graves may be removed and stored in crypts, or thrown down wells located on the cemetery grounds, while the bones from family graves cannot. "

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Msida Bastion Cemetery - Malta

Msida Bastion Cemetery
"A delight to visit"
The Msida Bastion Cemetery near the Excelsior Hotel is one of those magical finds that you make every now and again through sometimes humdrum cemetery hunting. The cemetery is on the Island of Malta and it's set against the walls of the City facing out to Marsamxett Harbour. The waters of the harbour are soft and blue and the walls of the ancient Bastion or fortress are hard and blindingly white in the sunlight of Malta. The Cemetery is on the edge of the City and I suspect that many Maltese don't know that the cemetery / garden is there hiding behind the walls holding secrets to itself. The guests of the 5* hotel nearby may not even know that such an historical jewel is so close to the hotel and within easy walking distance.

The opening hours are a little restricted and access is available on a limited basis which is frustrating although if you want to get there then you'll try to make space in your routine. The heat of the day means that you may not want to be out in the garden for long. There is only so much time in the sun that you can manage in Malta and the cemetery seems even hotter than usual because the cemetery is situated between the stone walls of the bastion. The stones warm up and throw heat outwards towards the visitor. The volunteers who work with the National Trust of Malta are rather wonderful as they give their time to maintaining the cemetery to the present high standards. In many ways it would be good to see the many Anglicans Churches in the UK spend so much time on their heritage. In Malta the volunteers work towards maintenance and restoration under the hot sun. During my visit I observed a 'mature' lady haul a heavy bucket of weeds through the heat (coming up to mid day)  after spending time lifting them out of the dry and inhospitable soil. The dedication of volunteers to heritage and conservation is clear and the outcome of the effort is that the cemetery is a beautiful garden.

Msida Bastion Cemetery
A beautiful and well conceived garden
The flowers in the cemetery are well chosen. They require little water and are just right for the dry Mediterranean environment although there are water pipes carefully laid out around the edges. The wild lawn looked good on the day of the visit in April although in the heat of August the lawn may look a little brown and threadbare. The flowers are reminiscent of an English Garden and they carry the atmosphere of the 'homeland' left behind by the inhabitants for this corner of the Mediterranean. The flowers aren't overwhelming. The visitor isn't oppressed with the weight of floral displays. Everything is balanced and 'tasteful'. It takes a lot of thought to be this understated. The Cemetery is a garden that befits its original purpose and which does honour to the frail remains of humanity resting under the thin sandy soil.

The monuments themselves are an interesting mixture. There are the simple 'stele' type of monuments that stand there with a name and details on one side and there are truly massive monuments belonging to the great and the good. In this cemetery there are the ordinary people brought to Malta as well as the landed gentry brought to govern as well as those in transit from one part of the growing Empire to the other. The stonework is a measure of the social cohesion of death. The stonework is a way of bringing together the Protestant community of Malta and those Catholics such as Vassaillis who had fallen out with the Catholic hierarchy. The Bastion cemetery is a place for the in gathering of the dead in a strange land.

Msida Bastion Cemetery
The lives of ordinary people preserved
for the future
The stone is largely very worn and de-laminated as the result of pollution and hard wear. Some monuments are very much on their last legs as they fade before our eyes. The work in the cemetery has conserved the monuments for the future although a lot of stonework in Malta is ready for re-building after the ravages of time. The headstones have been put together as much as possible although there is only so much that can be done with the weathered and shattered limestone and broken marble.

On the day of the visit I hadn't left enough time and I aimed to run off to Pieta and Hamrun to see other things and meet other people. Thanks to the work of the volunteers there would be time to visit again and take in the peace and special tranquillity of this garden that sits so peacefully  under the hot sun and behind the limestone walls.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Largest burial ground in the last 100 years

From: The Bromley Times

The capital’s largest burial ground in the last 100 years officially opened in Chislehurst last week.
Kemnal Park Cemetery, off the Sidcup By-Pass, has more than 30,000 plots along with memorial gardens for ashes on the grounds where Old Kemnal Manor once stood.

The site, run by Michael Burke, opened unofficially last year. He says the site will set “new levels of expectations” for London cemeteries.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Friday, 7 September 2012

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Emanuel Cooper Died 1875

Rosary Cemetery - Norwich [Link]

© Godric Godricson

Rosary Cemetery - Norwich [Link]

© Godric Godricson

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Monday, 23 July 2012

Haydon Marriott Sutherland Forbes 1897-1927

Buried Kalkara, Malta

© Godric Godricson

Haydon Marriott Sutherland Forbes was the only child of Dr.F.C.S. Forbes and 'Mrs. Forbes' (afterwards Farrington) born 1897. By 1911 Haydon was at the Royal Naval College, Whippingham on the Isle of Wight and later married to Cicely Malkham. Father to Pamela Patricia Forbes born in 1925.

Haydon was a descendent of Robert III of Scotland (b. 1337 - 4 April 1406) and the Lords of Forbes. Died on flying duty, 9th June 1927.