Sunday, 25 November 2012

A special graveyard on Portland



St Georges church located at the top of Portland looks grand compared with the surrounding stone built cottages and rocky landscape. It was completed in 1766 and was built by a local man who supplied the stone to Christopher Wren to build St Paul's Cathedral.



However, it is not the church that I have bought you here to see - but the grave yard which has over 1,500 graves. We discovered it a few years ago while on a walk and were amazed by the skilled cravings created by the local stone masons on the grave stones.


The gravestones tell the sad stories of the life and death of these islanders. Deaths caused from natural disasters and dangers of working on this island and living by the sea. Some examples include William Hansford who was killed in 1824 when the sea flooded the village of Chiswell, his leg was broken and unable to escape, his house fell on him.





Or a hero - Johann Carl Fredric Magdelinsky who was drowned while trying to save the lives of his fellow passengers, on the sinking ship, the Royal Adelaide in 1872.


 SACRED
To the Memory 
of
WILLIAM PEARCE
Who was killed by Lightning
While on duty in Her Majesties Service
On Portland Beach Nov 29th 1858
Leaving a widow and five children
To lament his loss
Aged 38 Years


 Or of Richard Bennett who had the misfortune to be severely injured at his work in a stone quarry, 
Or of Joseph Trevitt late assistant warder of Portland prison who was murdered by a convict.


On the other side of the graveyard wall are the spoils from the nearby stone quarry and in the far distance (a thin darker coloured line) is the sea. The graveyard may look very overgrown but this is because it is one of Dorset's Living Churchyard projects. These projects aim to provide a  natural habitat for the local wildlife and it is lovely to see wild flowers growing, although at this time of year it does look  rather messy.

The church has a booklet illustrating the most interesting 30 headstones. It was not open when we visited but this link shows the inside and more about the graveyard.. We went here a couple of weeks ago, hence the blue skies!. Funnily enough the week following our visit here Nina at Tabiboo and Annie from a breath of fresh air had stories about graveyards too!

Welcome to my new followers  Francesca from Fastifloreali, Trudie from Trudie's cottage and Allyniccy (I can't find a link for you- so please let me know if you have one.)

Wishing you a good week and hope we have a dry one!
Sarah x

32 comments:

  1. Great post - what an interesting church and graveyard. Last week on my photography class we walked to the local church to take some photos and I fell on some leaves and fell slap bang on to a gravestone - my leg is still painful and I have a large purple bruise from my knee to my ankle. At least the camera didn't get damaged!
    June

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  2. So sorry to hear about your knee, you didn't need a reminder about graveyards from me! I'm glad your camera wasn't damaged and hope your knee is soon better, wet leaves can be so lethal.
    Sarah x

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  3. Those gravestones have many stories to tell. The story of William Pearce sounds so tragic...to leave a wife and five children behind...

    Hope you will have a lovely week Sarah.

    madelief x

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  4. I love looking around church yards and this is such a beautiful if sad one. X

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  5. Graveyards are such fascinating places. The stories told can be so sad but they give a glimpse into past lives that I love. Beautiful photos. Juliex

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  6. I am always attracted to graveyards - I find them compelling, especially reading the headstones. I actually like your last photo with the grasses blowing and the sea on the horizon.

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  7. an interesting look into the past. i love the stone headstones with carvings, especially the ship!
    x

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  8. Fascinating stories and lovely photos! Suzy x

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  9. What beautiful photos. The stone of the church and stones is lovely. Some very interesting stories on the gravestones. Graveyards are always so interesting!
    My favourite ever gravestone featured in my first scavenger hunt post, Jan 2011...

    http://roachling.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/photo-scavenger-hunt-january.html

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  10. By reading and looking at gravestones one gets a glimps of other lives, fascinating. Since my late teens I liked to visit little graveyards in Italy, in the mountains and little villages. Your photo's are beautiful. Groetjes, Gerda

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  11. Sad as they are, the stories from the people that have passed are really interesting.
    Thank you for sharing with us.
    I wonder how the Living Churchyard projects will progress, too.

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  12. Good morning Sarah!

    What treasures of history these places have my dear. When I lived on the east coast of the USA in Boston Massachusetts, the old graveyards told stories of live otherwise forgotten. These monuments are places that should be visited with an eye for detail, a pensive mind and a ready pen...to retell what was, what may have been. Anita

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  13. Fascinating story, beautiful setting for such an impressive church! :)

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  14. Liebe Sarah,
    ja, so ein Gang über den Friedhof kann manchmal sehr erbaulich sein, demütig und man kann sich anschließen wieder des Lebens freuen und froh sein, dass man dort noch nicht die letzte Wohnstätte bezogen hat. Kennst du den Pariser Friedhof Père Lachaise? Er ist 44 Hektar groß und man kann auf ihm Tage verbringen, während man an den Gräbern von Chopin, Maria Callas, Edith Piaf, Marcel Proust, Oscar Wilde und anderen Berühmtheiten vorbei schlendert. Eine wahre Sehenswürdigkeit.

    Alles Liebe wünscht die Babsi

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    1. No I don't know about the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris it sounds interesting with so many famous people resting there.
      Sarah x

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  15. Every 4 months or so, I go with my dear friend Dita to put different white flowers on her husbands grave. She became a widow to soon.
    Once we have said a few prayers and our good by's , we often put a left over flower on another grave that might not have been visited. Then we walk around and she tells me about the families that are buried there.
    We always come away sad , but then begin to talk about the families that have gone before.
    Our cemetery is so very well looked after .
    This is a very nice post Sarah.
    During the summer months the gravestones must have lots of wild flowers growing around them.
    val

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  16. That pic of the graveyard is so expressiv!!!

    ♥ Franka

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  17. Oh I love graveyards and this one is beautiful with its wild, untamed look. So much nicer than grass mown within an inch of it's life!! It would be lovely in summer with the wildflowers blooming, and the bees buzzing. And that church is a beauty too! S:)

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  18. Wat a beautiful old grave yard. Very large too.

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  19. What beautiful craftsmanship - I love the relief work of the roses on 'Sarahs' Gravestone. We have so much to be thankful for these days with the health and safety regulations that protect us while we work even though they can be a bit over the top and the butt of many jokes. Sadly the natural disasters still account for many deaths as we are hearing in the news everyday and remind us that even though we can control many things in this life we cannot control nature it seems that it has its own balance of predictability and unpredictability in equal measure.

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  20. Hi Sarah,

    The beautiful graveyard set alongside the old church is lovely.
    Something really nice walking around an old cemetery - and the stories they tell.

    Wishing you a happy week
    hugs
    Carolyn

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  21. I also appreciate these left-to-nature graveyards ... it seems so fitting that they should be. I grew up opposite an ancient cemetery, we used to play among its abandoned graves and catch grasshoppers in the long grass. I can still remember what some of the inscriptions on the stones said. Since moving here I have been disappointed to discover that many headstones are cut from the local sandstone and become indecipherable within a few decades.

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  22. So much work and love has gone into carving those gravestones. That looks like a quiet place for reflection and it must be beautiful in the Spring with all the wild flowers.

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  23. I really enjoyed this post. I too love to visit and photograph grave yards. Nice treat, thank you.

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  24. I'm feeling silly. I've walked around this graveyard trying (and failing) to take good pictures(Portland light can be white and harsh, readers may not all realise you should have a special congratulation for these stones. I've looked at the grass, the plants, porch, quarry . . . and it never struck me to read the inscriptions. What a lot I've missed. What an idiot I've been! I'll have to go back with new eyes.

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    1. We must have been kucky on the day we visited with the light. The booklet that I picked up from a jumble sale after we had first noticed the graveyard.It does identify where the most interesting stones are although some of them are now difficult to read.
      Sarah x

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  25. What a fascinating place! And the stone mason was very talented. I walked around several old graveyards when I was in Britain last year. I remember being impressed by how old some of the markers were. Here in North America many markers from a century or two ago (which is old by our standards) used to be made of wood, so no longer exist.

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  26. We're often wandering around graveyards in our search for ancestors and, like you find it fascinating. There are some lovely and sometimes funny tributes to loved ones as well as some wonderfully carved headstones.
    Patricia x

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  27. So interesting, and nice to know that these people aren't forgotten as we remember them all these years later. Thank you for sharing.

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  28. What a wonderful place - and the architecture of the church itself is amazing! There are so few churches that aren't either VERY old or Victorian. You were indeed lucky with the blue-sky day, as it makes the carvings look so sharp. I have ancestors who were stonemasons in Dorset, but in Purbeck, not Portland, and always admire the skill involved...

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  29. The church is stunning. That looks like a graveyard I would love to visit--the old headstones are so very interesting!

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  30. Graveyards are fascinating, aren't they? There is a wonderful big one in Milan near where I grew up, full of wonderful statues and artwork. I love how quiet and peaceful these places are always and, ironically, I don't find them sad at all!!

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