The Thomas & Elizabeth Mayhook Charity held it’s annual general meeting yesterday, at which, on the retirement of the founding chairman Richard Goodridge, after seven years at the helm, the charity was pleased to appoint Mary Thorley as the new Chair.
Mary Thorley was born and brought up in Carmarthen. After studying for a degree in History and Politics at Swansea University she became a primary school head teacher in Gloucestershire and, later, in her home town. She was also Head of Teacher Training at Trinity St. Davids for a number of years and is now retired. Mary’s PhD thesis from Aberystwyth University was titled ‘The Naming of Women. The Lives of the Middle Class Women of Carmarthen 1850-1918.’ Some of the women she studied are buried in St. David’s Churchyard. Mary is committed to the work of The Thomas and Elizabeth Mayhook Charity which honours so many of the people who have been part of the life of Carmarthen Town.
David England was appointed Vice Chairman, and also on the retirement of Robert Goodridge as Treasurer, Mrs Gwyneth Thomas was appointed to look after the charities finances. Both Richard and Robert will remain volunteers of the charity.
As we approach Christmas this year and all that it brings, let’s spare a thought for John Jones, who at the age of 35 passed away peacefully on Christmas Day 1856 and is commemorated here in St David’s cemetery. One of the most unusual memorials in this cemetery is this little headstone commemorating the burial of three members of the same family….Ebenezer, his wife Mary, and their son John.
Clearly, the memorial is based on the design of the Star of David. Its adoption as a distinctive symbol for the Jewish people and religion dates back to Medieval times. The name Ebenezer is also a Hebrew name synonymous with the Jewish people, and so it is quite remarkable to see such a design in a Welsh Cemetery which is nearly 170 years old. May they all rest in peace.
May I take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas.
As always this time of year ( and indeed throughout the year ) the headstones are cleaned in readiness for visitors to the cemetery, to look at the seven Commonwealth War Graves that come under our care.
Poppy Crosses and flowers are placed on each grave throught the year and this time of year is of course no exception. As the Cross of Souls memorial was unveiled and consecrated earlier this year it was felt appropriate that a poppy wreath should be placed here also to remember all those who fell in battle and have themselves no known grave.
“At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember them”
The ongoing restoration of the cemetery continued again yesterday with the visit of volunteers from the Mackworth Club of local Freemasons who spent the whole morning working hard and were joined by three trustees and Mr David England- a regular helper and supporter. Luckily the rain kept off and we were able to repair two memorials, a third was also “uprighted” as it was leaning at a 45 degree angle, and a lot of ivy and overgrowth was removed from the surrounding wall. Also grading of the soil of a small section of the cemetery was also achieved with the help of Richard Holmes, who once again offered his services free of charge. The Mackworth Club has visited us on a number of occasions and the Thomas & Elizabeth Mayhook Charity would like to express their thanks and appreciation for their efforts.
David England also spent the whole morning cleaning away the overgrowth of holly and ivy from one of the “rarer” types of hipped stone memorial to the BRIGHT family, who were well known publicans in the town in the mid eighteenth century. All in all the mornings work was well worth the effort and as the days are drawing in, everyone was pleased to have been provided with sausage and chips before they packed up and left. Finally we are likely to have to cut the grass ONCE MORE in the next week or two weather permitting as it just seems to keep on growing ! The headstone below was found under the soil about two years ago and placed for safety alongside the boundary wall close to where it was found. A further amount of work will be needed to complete the restoration but at least it has now been reunited for the first time in almost a hundred years.
Dear Friends I thought I would share with you this picture which I took this afternoon amidst glorious sunshine. All four mowers were in operation for nearly two hours. About one third of the cemetery was cut, the remainder having been done previously. I would think that even now, we shall return once more to give it it’s final “trim” and then at last we can put away the mowers until next spring ( after having them all serviced first )
In two weeks time we will see the return of a number of volunteers to complete the soil levelling using earth moving machinery and to restore a number of memorials that we were unable to complete this year due to the pandemic. So by this time next month I am hopeful that we will finally see the “home straight” in our six year long battle to restore St Davids Cemetery to a place of dignity as befits such an historic cemetery. A full write up of that “volunteers weekend” will appear on the website soon afterwards. Taking “selfies” is not my forte, but as usual I am extremely grateful to to all who came along today and if you didn’t know already, I am closest to the camera followed by Chris Dzioba (Trustee) David England ( Volunteer) & Robert Goodridge (Trustee). Best wishes
The restoration of the last resting place of CAROLINE GEORGIANA CATHERINE PRYTHERCH is finally nearing completion. After nearly two years since the box tomb itself was completely rebuilt, the trustees are embarking on the final piece of the jigsaw, in the complete restoration of the massive cast iron railings that surround it and replacing it’s missing ornate finials. The finials, having been recast last year at considerable expense have sat waiting to be re-united until now. The work will be carried out over the next few weeks and once complete will be coated with a special preservative/primer to prevent any further corrosion.
Once this has been done a special and unique video will be available on the website to view the restoration and the story behind it. It is widely believed that Caroline was the youngest grand-daughter of George III by his alleged liaison with Hannah Lightfoot whilst Prince of Wales, but as ever, it will be up to each individual to form their own opinion. It is not the intention of our charity to rewrite history but I am sure the story will be of interest, especially from the restoration point of view.
We are now in the “peak” of the growing season and our four mowers like ourselves are flat out in keeping the grass cut short and the weeds at bay.
Strimming is also part of our work of course and we continue as ever to keep the cemetery in good order thanks to our “Friends” and volunteers.
The Cross of Souls – Y Groes Eneidiau, to give it it’s official welsh title was unveiled on the 21st June. The memorial was unveiled by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Dyfed – Sara Edwards and wreaths were laid including one by the Right Honourable Mark Drakeford MS -First Minister of Wales. The full story can be found under the sub heading of this website – Cross of Souls.
As the summer weather has once again been one of wet and hot weather the grass continues to grow at an alarming rate, as do the weeds of course but regular cuts with both mowers (four of them) and strimmer’s, (two) and the occasional cut from the ride on mowers (two) of the local council ( for which we pay them) everything is looking really good at present. The rose bed has come into its’s own this year, having extended it before the memorial construction with over 60 rose bushes it now looks really lovely. Memorial restoration has inevitably been put on hold as a result of the workload, but those memorials that are left to repair etc. will be completed in the autumn and winter months. Thanks again to all our supporters and volunteers, without which it would be impossible to achieve.
It is not often that we are able to connect a long lost family memorial which has been restored together with a restored photograph of that very family.
I am pleased to report therefore that the photographs below show just that. Firstly we have the memorial restoration of the BARNETT white marble memorial, carried out by the trustees of the charity and then we have an original photograph kindly supplied by Mr David England, a direct descendant of the family – before and after restoration. The restoration was carried out my Mr Jeffrey Moreau – a great supporter of the charity and Webmaster of our website – thank you both. I think you will agree that the restoration of both memorial and photograph is outstanding. Mary Ann Barnett, wife of Matthew Henry Barnett who features in the photograph is buried with her husband but sadly, her name is not inscribed on the memorial, like so many at the time, due to the expense involved. Their daughter Henrietta who is featured in the photograph went on to live a full and happy life
Yesterday saw the return of Volunteers to St Davids Cemetery to continue the work of restoration and repair, which has been ongoing despite the pandemic. The “Mackworth Club” consisting of Freemasons from Carmarthen returned for the third time in two years to help in the clearing of debris, clean and tidy up eleven grave spaces, repair three damaged memorials and to save two important headstones from being buried in the ground – now resting alongside the wall of the church in safety. Volunteers started to arrive at 8am and it was not until 2pm that work finally came to an end. Refreshments were provided by the Chairman of the Charity in the form of mince pies, fruit cake and sponge, made it has to say by his 89 year old father Stan the day before. Needless to say there was no food left by the end of the tea break. The tea and coffee was made by the Chairman by the borrowing of an urn and two tea pots together with the folding table and the electricity provided by the petrol generator that is used mostly for restoring memorials! Two Trustees were also present in continuing the construction of the Cross of Souls memorial by cementing into place the grave markers found discarded around the cemetery into the base of the memorial and the details of the unveiling and consecration – scheduled for the 21st June will be published in due course. Another of our volunteers Dave, also came along and once again mowed a large part of the cemetery before the petrol run out ! The weather was very good and it has to be said was a most enjoyable and productive day and our thanks go out to all those involved.
I am pleased to let everyone know that we have today completed our 18th memorial restoration since lockdown began last March. Over the last year, the charity has had to work under extremely difficult conditions, with very little volunteer support ( with the exception of the wonderful Mackworth Club of young Carmarthen Freemasons ) but as we now slowly emerge from the pandemic, we are hopeful of a greater involvement of volunteers to finally complete the restoration programme which will include the levelling off of uneven areas of the cemetery due to soil erosion.
If you look under the sub heading of this website – “Memorial Restoration” you will see the full story. As always, our faithful friend Peregrine is on hand to oversee our work.