I thought I would give you a brief “glimpse” into which countries have been visiting our website since we went “live” on July 4th last year. Here is the full list to date, which does not include of course the UK. It just goes to show the huge and worldwide audience such a small charity like ours has, and I hope that all who have visited us will have found the experience worthwhile.
Today is the 115th anniversary of the birth of my grandmother Elizabeth Jane Mayhook, (formerly Thomas) whose surname the charity takes it’s name from, who was born on September 23rd 1905. Memories of her remain very strong as in my childhood I spent many a time at my grandparents house which I remember with great fondness.
“Bessie” as she was fondly known as, was one of twins, her brother William Edward Thomas, the first born – at 12 Buckingham Place ,Carmarthen entered the world at 6am, to be followed by Elizabeth at 11pm that evening ! William grew to be 6ft 4″ whilst Elizabeth stature was a surprising 5ft. Sadly William passed away in July 1973 and is believed to be buried in St David’s Cemetery along with many other members of his family. Burial registers for this period appear to be missing unfortunately. Both William and Elizabeth were to be the first of another 11 children, the last two also being born as twins in 1917.
As we reach the end of our fifth year as a Registered Charity and five years of hard labour and determination, I am certain that my grandparents would be justly proud of our efforts in restoring dignity to all those who are buried in St David’s Cemetery. May they all rest in peace.
On Monday 7th September, on what was a most dreary wet and windy day, the cemetery was a hive of activity with the Chairman preparing for the restoration of an important historical grave at the end of the month involving the complete rebuilding, cleaning and re-naming of a stone kerb memorial which has remained in a dilapidated state for decades but soon to be seen again in all it’s glory and will once again become a fitting tribute to a remarkable man…more on this story will follow in a future update shortly.
What was particularly important however on Monday was the attendance of Mr Mark Timbrell of South Wales Utility Mapping who had undertaken to arrange and organise free of charge a Ground Radar Survey and a Topographical Survey of the cemetery which would be of immense benefit to the charity in the future. The results of the Radar Survey and the completion of the Topographical survey will be forwarded to the Trustees in the near future and mention must also be given to Shane from the world famous Swiss company Leica who also came down to carry out the radar survey using the most up to date computerised equipment in existence costing tens of thousands of pounds. To both of these gentlemen the Trustees are extremely grateful in offering their services without recompense. The importance of the survey’s cannot be underestimated as the CROSS OF SOULS location and it’s foundation will depend on the results of this survey. I will keep you posted on developments.
Dear Friends, you may wish to know that we have continued to mow the grass and strim those areas we cannot access with the 4 mowers on a regular basis, and have been grateful for the offer of assistance from volunteers wishing to help. As you can imagine, during the last few months it has been almost impossible to expect and indeed ask anyone to come and help but now that we are emerging from many of the restrictions during lock down I will be sending out a questionnaire by e mail to those with access to a computer and by letter to those who don’t, to establish what type of assistance can be offered, such as mowing, strimming, litter picking, weeding etc. No one would be expected to do more than an hours work and there will always be a trustee on site to supervise etc. It’s also important I think to be able to draw up a type of “Rota” if at all possible which then gives us a plan to work from.
I hope to send out the questionnaire next week. In the meantime do look at a new article I have included under the “Churchyard and Grounds” sub heading entitled “Grave Markers”. It’s only a short piece but very important to the history of the cemetery.
I am pleased to tell you that the rose beds are now beginning to flourish.
Five hours of mowing over the last two days has seen the grassed areas now looking particularly good and “patchy areas” have been re-seeded where soil restoration has taken place. The recent rainfall will help it to germinate and we look forward to having more grass to mow in the near future ! Having exercise during lockdown has taken on a new meaning but it’s all in a good cause.
I am also particularly pleased to tell you that this week we have uncovered yet another unrecorded memorial with an additional four names now added to the database memorial list. Clearly this slate headstone was already in the ground in 1977 and though the top of it is missing, all the relevant details are there. Four members of the JONES family together with two infant children. May they rest in peace.
The location of the memorial will now be plotted on the memorial map and it will remain in situ, though at ground level.
On mowing and strimming the cemetery this week and whilst continuing the ground restoration another slate headstone has come to light. Unfortunately it has some serious damage but the inscription is almost perfect. Some of the information is missing but with research this can be found quite easily.
There are two BEVAN’S families mentioned in the 1977 survey of memorials for St David’s and this one is NOT one of them, so this will be the first time in almost 50 years that their names will have appeared on the register of memorials and their names added to the list of those with a known grave. Also RACHEL CLARKE will be added to the list of names who is also mentioned on the slate headstone. Whilst it is of great disappointment that we find these memorials in such a condition, the fact that they have been buried for almost a half a century comes as no surprise. Finding them is the main thing, as then we can at least bring back some dignity to their memory. The location of the headstone where found will also be recorded and added to the memorial map of the cemetery before it is removed for safety to the perimeter wall.
It has been so hot this last few days making it hard going in mowing and strimming the cemetery grounds, but we have been keeping going none the less. All seven graves had their wooden poppy crosses replaced this week and an artificial poppy planted to give the graves some further dignity. They look very realistic – even close up, and don’t need watering !
As we see the gradual easing of the lockdown restrictions here in Wales that have taken over our lives during the last eight weeks I am very glad to report that our contractor Richard Holmes of Richard Holmes Contracting has now started where he left off all those weeks ago and has continued the restoration of the cemetery grounds. We have all become very used to the daily briefings on television of the number of deaths from Covid 19 and this is of course a terrible tragedy for all those families involved and our hearts go out to them. As I walk through the cemetery so often I cannot help but notice the terrible tragedies that befell many inhabitants of Carmarthen during the Victorian era by reading the many inscriptions, especially of so many young children and infants that passed away, in some cases the whole family disappearing within months.
What has become evident and of huge importance historically to this restoration project over the last few days whilst Richard Holmes has carried out his work on our behalf, is that there are many memorials buried beneath the surface that have been there for probably 60 years or more and have never been recorded until now, and their last resting place unknown until now. The survey of 1977 lists one thousand seven hundred and fifty two names with under one thousand memorials. This week alone Richard has uncovered a further three memorials – all buried several inches in the soil and none are recorded in the survey of 1977. The charity will now be mapping out the location of these newly found memorials, photographing them for posterity and will then add them to the website database for researchers. During this very delicate stage of our restoration Richard has been very sensitive to the work he has to undertake and I personally would like to take this opportunity to thank him on behalf of the Thomas & Elizabeth Mayhook Charity for all the work he has undertaken so far and continues to do on our behalf.
One of the extremely large white marble memorials that was uncovered last week commemorates the LLEWELLYN family from PARK HALL TERRACE, a street long since demolished but originally existed near the old oak in Priory Street, and where in fact the present housing estate takes it name from. You can see from the lead inscription ( some of which has sadly but not unsurprisingly been damaged) that four members of the same family all died within 11 years of each other, their ages ranging from 18 to 37. George, James and Henry all worked at the tin works in Priory Street ( part of which is now Jewson’s) James lived in the house next door to his parents with his wife Margaret and his son Henry.
The family originally came from Aberavon and like most families came to Industrial Carmarthen for work during the expansion of tinplate manufacturing. What is particularly sad in this case is that George senior himself also died before 1891 taking the number of deaths in the same family to four before tragedy struck when his grandson HENRY drowned in the River Towy aged just 18…………..the following is an extract from the Carmarthen Journal
On Thursday morning, a young fellow named Henry Llewellyn, Park Hall, Waundew, was drowned whilst bathing near the Confluence. He was seen to enter the water by John Edwards, a fisherman, who was fishing in a coracle in the vicinity. Shortly afterwards Edwards saw him go under water, and thought he was only playing. Suddenly he heard Llewellyn scream, and, making towards the place where he saw him disappear, Edwards picked him up, but life was extinct. The body was conveyed to his home at Park Hall, Waundew. Llewellyn was a cold roller at the Carmarthen Tinworks, and 18 years of age. Much sympathy is felt for his widowed mother.
12TH MAY 1893 Carmarthen Journal page 5
Memorials and their inscriptions do not always tell the true tale of the demise of those who are buried beneath them and further research will I am sure reveal more about this unfortunate family in due course. At least now they have a memorial, albeit one that has been buried for 60 years. The other two memorials I referred to at the beginning are shown below and tell their own story, again of great sadness. They will be entered into the database and recorded for posterity, their names no longer forgotten.
Today the Thomas & Elizabeth Mayhook Charity salutes Captain Tom Moore on his one hundredth birthday and wish him every happiness and many more years of good health and enjoyment .
It may be interesting to note that in St David’s Cemetery there are a number of centenarians buried here most notably ANN WILLIAMS who according to the burial register was aged 115 years when she died in 1841. Which would have made her the oldest person in the world at the time.
Also MARY WILLIAMS (no relation) was also a centenarian and passed away in 1889 aged 100. Longevity was not common amongst the inhabitants of Carmarthen but careful examination of the headstone inscriptions are sometimes very revealing. May they all rest in peace.
The inscription on the headstone reads as follows
To the memory of
Shoemaker, the son of
DAVID & MARY WILLIAMS
Mason, of Friar’s Park in this town
Who departed this life May 24th
1855 aged 26
Also the above
DAVID WILLIAMS, Mason
Died August 16th 1879
Aged 93 years.
Also the above MARY WILLIAMS
Died May 10th 1889 Aged 100 years
“Thy will be done”
The Thomas & Elizabeth Mayhook Charity continue to cut the grass and strim the areas inaccessible to the mowers and whilst it is very hard work for just two people at the moment we are hopeful that when the “lock down” restrictions are eased we will be able to call upon willing volunteers to assist us -free tea and coffee and cakes included. Stay safe and carry on. !
Visitors to this website will see the sub heading of “Search Database” and on searching through it will find the names of over 1700 names of those recorded on the many memorials within St David’s Cemetery. This database has been produced by using the information provided by the survey carried out in 1977 before many of the memorials were removed to the perimeter walls of the cemetery. The database is however far from complete. With nearly 6,500 burials between 1841 and 2002 less than a third are recorded. The burial “plan” which was used by gravediggers and undertakers to locate the spot where individuals were buried has been lost. However, there are a number of additions to be included on the database in the near future. These have been discovered by the “rediscovery” of several memorials buried in the ground for over half a century and only recently restored.
Also, the survey carried out in 1977 mostly concentrated on names and dates of death only and did not include profession or addresses. It is hoped in time to fill in these gaps as we know that professions and addresses form an important part of research of which nearly all are recorded on the memorials. Finally it is hoped that photographs of the memorials will be linked to the search facility in due course which will enable researchers to see the actual grave/memorial as well, and also to include the plan of the survey locating the actual burial spot of those families. If any researcher has any queries then the “contact us” page can be used to send in any questions and I will do my utmost to help.