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.
Kindness and charitable giving are deeply ingrained within the principles of Freemasonry and the organisation provides the structure for members to make positive contributions to their communities and various causes. Such was the case here in St David’s Cemetery Carmarthen on Monday December 7th when a cheque for £700 was donated to the charity by Mr Mark Bassett, (on the right ) the Chairman of the Mackworth Club , a young Freemasons Club that operates under the Masonic Province of West Wales.
Also attending in support of the presentation was Mr James Ross, (left) the Provincial Grand Master of the Masonic Province of West Wales. This donation was in addition to a previous donation of £200. Richard Goodridge Chairman of the Charity (centre) welcomed the donation and thanked them for being so generous, not only financially but also for their time and the huge physical effort that many members of the Mackworth Club had already contributed in the restoration of several of the memorials and ground work on more than one occasion . The restoration of Frederick James Finglah’s grave being the pinnacle of their achievements.
I am pleased to say that the restoration of memorials continues to proceed despite the Pandemic crisis that we have all endured since March of this year. The Thomas & Elizabeth Mayhook Charity is particularly indebted to the fourteen members of the “Mackworth Club” of local Freemasons who gave up their time recently to help continue our efforts to restore as many graves as possible. This is not the first time they have helped us and I am sure it will not be the last. The charity is also grateful to the financial support they have given and more on this will be published shortly.
On a dreary and extremely wet Sunday, in what was one of the most dreadful conditions imaginable a total of nine memorials were cleaned and restored, mostly of the concrete kerb variety, where the old stones and debris were removed and new white spar added. Also one slate headstone was uprighted and embedded in a concrete base, and a further memorial to James Finglah – a very special individual was also completely restored and a special feature will appear soon on this remarkable individual.
Also the Cross of souls memorial project gathers momentum and I am grateful to the Diocesan Advisory Committee for granting permission for this very special memorial to be erected. Plans are afoot to begin the construction of the concrete base followed by other work and it is hoped that it will all be completed by the end of January, and ready for the unveiling and consecration on February 3rd. I am also delighted to inform you that the Right Honourable The First Minister for Wales , Mr Mark Drakeford PC will lay the first wreath following consecration and will be followed by Professor Medwin Hughes DL, Vice Chancellor of Trinity St David’s University who will lay a wreath on behalf of the “Friends” of the charity. Further information will appear about this in January. Thank you all very much for your continued support.
Today of course is Remembrance Sunday. Over the last few days, myself and my brother Robert together with Mr Chris Dzioba have been busy cutting the grass which between the three of us took about six hours in total with our three garden lawnmowers. The grounds now look very nice indeed as a result. New wooden poppy crosses are regularly placed on the memorials within St David’s and the photographs I hope provide you with some comfort in knowing that we look after all the memorials with equal diligence, even during the pandemic crisis. Whilst we have several World War One Commonwealth War Graves in the cemetery, this photograph is of the memorial to Brighty Thomas Lewis…………….
Private Brighty Thomas Lewis – Welsh Regiment
His many friends learned with regret of the death of Pte. Brighty Thomas Lewis, 1/4 Welsh Regiment, son of Mr. D. Lewis, 47, Mill-street, which occurred on Saturday at the age of 29 years. Deceased joined the Army in November, 1914, and landed in Egypt in August, 1915. He had served in the East for about three and a half years. He was wounded in March. 1916, and again on July 13th, 1918, when he had the misfortune to lose his right leg. Pte. Lewis arrived home from hospital on December 14th, and had been under several operations for his leg. Before joining the Army, he was a collier at Ponthenry. Sympathy is felt with the bereaved father, widow and two little children in their sorrow. The funeral took place on Tuesday at St. David’s Churchyard, Revs. E. Basil Herbert and J. Gwynfe Jones officiating. Deceased was accorded military honours, and the funeral was a very impressive one. Heading the cortege were the Deputy Mayor (Ald. John Lewis, J.P.), and Councillor Thos. Davies, who were followed by a large muster of soldiers on leave, among whom were several repatriated prisoners of war. Members of the Discharged Soldiers’ Federation were also present in good numbers, in charge of by Mr. Meredith Williams, chairman of the local branch. At the graveside the Last Post” was sounded by Mr. Dan Bowen. The chief mourners were Mr. D Lewis (father), Mr. D. Ray (father-in-law), Messrs. D. Thomas, W. Evans, D. Evans and F Bye (brothers-in-law) and Mr. David Lewis (cousin). Floral tributes were received from the following: All his friends; Mrs. Richards 7 Mill- street; Mrs. Richards,1 Cotterill’s Lane; Mrs Mortimer, 2 Mill-street; Mrs. Richards, Cambrian Place; Mrs. Evans 34 King-street; Mrs. Williams, 32, Mill-street- and Mrs. Evans, Fountain Hall, Terrace.
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.