It has been an emotional rollercoaster for me personally, in researching the tragic stories of some of those who are buried in St David’s Cemetery Carmarthen and who are fortunate enough to have a headstone to tell the tale. For over 16 years, from 1841 until 1856 all the “inmates” for example from the Carmarthen Workhouse were buried in St David’s Cemetery – until the Town Cemetery opened, and even then many were continued to be buried there. Obviously coming from the poorest backgrounds and with poor health also, were given the most basic of funerals with no grave marker to speak of and also all those who died in the Cholera epidemic of the 1840’s which wiped out entire families in a matter of days.
Statistically there are nearly 6,500 burials in the “old” part of the cemetery that occurred between 1841 and 2002 when it closed. Out of these only 1,453 have named memorials, and 362 that have grave markers with no names. This leaves some 4,500 burials with no grave markers whatsoever – in other words “no known grave” The situation is made worse of course because of the loss of the “Burial plan” which would have recorded all the locations of all those buried in specific graves, though it is believed that during the cholera epidemic and for burials of those in the workhouse there were burial “plots” which were in effect multi burials in the same grave. Also it is believed that burials of persons who were of the Catholic faith also took place in St David’s until the opening of their own church in 1852.
My own great grandfather, Thomas David Thomas (pictured in the photograph) is one of those who have no known grave or grave marker. He died of Tuberculosis aged 38 in 1921. He was a gifted signwriter and famously painted the “Morris Top Hat” sign on the shop in Lammas Street when it first opened. His two infant sons, both named John Shamby Thomas are buried with him -aged 9 months, and 2 years and three months respectively.
Also, on looking through the burial registers one cannot fail to feel great sadness for the many infants – some of only a few days old who have the words “not baptized” inserted next to their name. It is my intention therefore to close what I regard as an injustice to those who are buried at St David’s and have no memorial to their name – all 4,500 of them by erecting a suitable memorial cross, not of stone or marble but of Corten Steel….It will feature a memorial cross with it’s centre hollowed out so that when you stand in front of it you will be able to look through it into the distance of the cemetery – effectively creating a type of “window” into the past. The attached diagram has been prepared by my sister in law Alison Goodridge (Roberts Wife) and I must offer her my sincerest thanks for making such a good drawing. Whilst it is not exactly to scale you can see the basic design principal. It will be located next to the present rose bed at the rear of the church with an additional rose bed added on the other side of it. No burials are in this location as some of the original foundations of the original church are underneath.
The inscription and wording has yet to be discussed. Its height will in total be about 6 ft and will be secured to a stone plinth made from some of the salvaged stones currently in the cemetery. At least then flowers can be laid at a memorial that commemorates each and every member of a family buried there with no grave marker whatever their status, age, or profession and be a fitting tribute. An application therefore for FACULTY PERMISSION from the Church in Wales is currently underway, and hopefully in the next few months approval will be given to proceed with this important memorial. The 3rd February 2021 next year is the 180th anniversary of the cemeteries consecration, and it is proposed that this date be the one at which the memorial should be unveiled/consecrated by the Bishop of St David’s at a ceremony involving VIP guests, Friends of the Thomas & Elizabeth Mayhook Charity and others. If you would like more information on the Faculty Application please get in touch using the contact page of this website .
Richard J Goodridge MBE
(Chairman of the Thomas & Elizabeth Mayhook Charity)