About a dozen members of the Outings Group met for a two hour of the West Cemetery with Julia, our volunteer guide. In the early 1980s it was derelict and overgrown, but thanks to the hard work of the Friends of the cemetery, it is now accessible and beautiful. It is very hilly but the paths are clear and wide. We learned that there are 17 acres in this part – 15 for Anglicans and 2 for Dissenters when built in 1839. In all there are 17,000 people buried in 53,000 graves. This includes some 300 war graves. We learnt about the lovely refurbished chapel, and then we set off into the huge courtyard, large enough for horse drawn hearses to turn. This is backed by an arched colonnade with a large War Memorial cross. On the main path, where the highest in society had their graves, Julia pointed out decorative features used by the Victorians to depict various aspects related to death and burial and people’s occupations. We walked through the Egyptian Avenue, lined with iron doors, to the Circle of Lebanon with its several hundred year old Cedar of Lebanon looking magnificent.
An edited account of the visit by Lesley Ramm