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.
After a very busy six months in restoring many of the memorials we are now approaching the grass cutting season with ” all hands on deck” for the rest of the summer in keeping the grass down by mowing and strimming as often as possible dependent on volunteers, restrictions allowing. You will find what we have been up to by looking at the Memorial Restoration subheading. I hope you find it of interest. We do have one more memorial to restore which is one of the heaviest yet – probably a quarter of a ton, which presently lies in two halves inside a cast iron railing stone kerb. It is very ornate but as it has lead lettering many of the letters have disappeared, but that will not detract from the splendour of the memorial itself- once it has been rebuilt and restored in the near future.
Work on the Cross of Souls memorial, commemorating nearly 5,000 of those interred here without any headstone or memorial will begin in the near future and will be ready for unveiling and consecration in June – all being well. I shall update you on that closer to the time. Happy Easter.
The photograph below shows the very ornate cast iron railings that surround the family memorial of The Venerable Archdeacon David Archard Williams, founder of the Church. You will see the missing very ornate “Fleur de lis” corner finial, which was found in the muddy ground nearby and has now been repositioned and fully restored.
This may seem somewhat insignificant but it is actually very important in the restoration programme. All repairs however small are all always undertaken with great care and precision. Such finials are now impossible to replace and very expensive to have made otherwise.
Meet PEREGRINE our resident falcon. The fastest bird of prey in existence whose speed and agility is a sight to behold. He can be seen sitting regularly atop the St Davids Church clock tower resting in the sunlight looking for his next meal ! The cemetery has become a haven for wildlife since its restoration.
Today is the 180th anniversary of the consecration of St Davids Cemetery and of St Davids Church carried out by the then Lord Bishop of St Davids The Right Reverend Connop Thirlwall on the 3rd February 1841.
As a mark of respect the Chairman of the Thomas & Elizabeth Mayhook Charity laid a basket of flowers at the grave of the Venerable Archdeacon David Archard Williams – who was the founding father of St Davids church and cemetery and also that of it’s sister church Christchurch, a few minutes walk away.
The first burial took place on the 5th February 1841. Margaret Davies aged just 22 who lived by the River Bank of the Towy, was to to be the first of nearly 6,500 until the cemetery closed in 2002. The Cross of Souls memorial will be a fitting tribute to all those with no known grave or memorial when it is erected later this year.
Progress continues to be made in the restoration of the cemetery and some additional features added to give it some colour in the summer/autumn and indeed winter months with the planting recently of this marvelous mature Sorbus Aucuparia Rowan Tree which will give splendid colour in the summer and autumn . It was imported from Holland and donated by Professor Medwin Hughes, Vice Chancellor of Trinity St David’s University, thereby cementing even further the Universities historic links with the cemetery.
Also, 25 rose bushes are to be planted tomorrow with the extension of the present rose bed to bring it closer to the Cross of Souls memorial. This will provide a really wonderful display of colour in the summer months and further enhance this section of the cemetery for those visiting.
The Unveiling and Consecration of the Cross of Souls Memorial – Y GROES ENEIDIAU will now be delayed for a number of weeks due to the restrictions that have been in place and which are likely to continue for the next month at least. The construction of the memorial has also been delayed due to import delays. It is hoped that a new date can be arranged for sometime in JUNE THIS YEAR, and as soon as I have a firm date I will let you know.
We have been busy in preparing the base of the memorial by using some of the grave markers that have been found lying on the surface and scattered around the cemetery and these will be cemented into place once they have been positioned correctly thereby linking the past with the present and will be a focal point for all to visit. Alongside the memorial will be an information board on a pedestal giving details about why it has been constructed.