musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: Southampton Old Cemetery

Remembrance Day 2013

I must admit that I am pleased to see the many Poppies on display in Southampton and Salisbury, it brings the whole Remembrance Day closer to me as as we approach the 11th of November. Back in South Africa such displays were rare, and even finding a poppy to buy was difficult. Alas, many of They do not grow old, as we grow old those who used to stand in the shopping malls with their medals and collection boxes have passed on, and a lot of the ex servicemen groups closed ranks as their membership slowly died off. And then of course we had the case of a shopping centre in Sandton that would not allow poppy sellers in its ivory towers, perhaps they thought that these men did not fit in with the yuppie crowd that they wanted in their mall. Yuppies do not seem to die in wars.
Coming back to reality though, as an ex national serviceman myself, I too have lost friends during my period in the military, so I wear a poppy for them too. This past year I saw a photograph of one of the boys we lost, and it was like seeing a ghost. I recall the sorrow I felt when I finally found his grave, and it is as important to remember him on the 11th too.
There will be a parade and wreath laying in Southampton tomorrow, and I will probably be lurking in the background somewhere with my camera. 
I just hope that the weather plays its part too. I may also head across to Southampton Old Cemetery to attend their service, but again that is all weather dependent. 

Cross of Sacrifice, Southampton Old Cemetery.

Irrespective of where I will be though, I will be a part of the brotherhood of military veterans. A select group of people who “served their country”, although in the case of the South Africa it appears as if we really just wasted our time. 
My association with South African War Graves Project will also bear fruit as the database will finally be going live on the 11th. It has been a long road to get to this point, and we still have a ways to travel.
I know this is a very jumbled collection of words for such an important day, but I can’t quite get a coherent sentence out because there is such a lot of significance to this week of November in my life that often I can only really touch bases here and there. . 
In Memory of:
Robert Owen Turner. Died in Egypt WW2.
Matt Slabbert Died in France 1918
Herbert “Bertie” Turner. Deville Wood Survivor
David Leonard Walker. WW2 survivor.
Rfn Van Der Kolf. E Company 11 Commando. 1980
Rfn Peter Hall. B Company 61 Mech Bn Grp
Rfn Lionel van Rooyen. B Company 61 Mech Bn Grp
Cpl Johann Potgieter B Company 61 Mech Bn Grp.


© DRW 2013-2018. Images recreated 14/04/2016

Updated: 29/12/2017 — 07:51

Photo Essay: General Gordon Memorial, Southampton

Southampton is full of history if you know where to look. Although not on my regular route I sometimes would take a shortcut through Queen’s Park and this is where you will find the General Gordon Memorial.

I have to admit I did not make the connection to Gordon of Khartoum until somebody told me about it. Oddly enough I had instinctively photographed the base of the plinth “just in case”.

Also known as “Chinese Gordon” for his service in the Far East and “Gordon of Khartoum”, after where he was killed in 1885, Gordon lived in Southampton and served in the Crimean War, and the second Opium War, and reorganised China’s ‘Ever Victorious Army’, leading it to a series of brilliant victories during the Taiping Rebellion. He later was Governor-General of the Sudan and evacuated some 2,600 civilians and soldiers from Khartoum before the Mahdi’s revolt. He was supposedly killed in the Governor-General’s palace in 1885, just two days before his 52nd birthday.  


It is believed that his head was presented to the Mahdi and his body was thrown down a well.

Gordon’s Tomb may be found in St Paul’s Cathedral, London, although he is not buried there as no part of his body was recovered. There is also a Gordon family tomb in Southampton’s Old Cemetery on the Common on which Gordon is commemorated. 

A strange place to find somebody who was involved in so many events that changed nations. How many people make the connection? not too many. I know I was not one of them either.

© DRW 2013-2018. Retrospectively created 05/07/2016

Updated: 29/12/2017 — 07:14

Southampton Old Cemetery

Naturally the second thing I do when arriving anywhere is looking for the cemetery, and the one closest to me is Southampton Old Cemetery which is “up the road”. Like so many other cemeteries in the UK it does go back many years, being opened on 7 May 1846; and like so many other cemeteries of that time it had an unconsecrated “Dissenter” (non conformist) side and a consecrated side. There are 2 chapels too and a lodge in the cemetery and there are roughly 116000 burials in it.

The cemetery borders on Southampton Common, so theoretically it could have been expanded had the need arisen, but I suspect that Hollybrook became the next best place to be buried in Southampton.

My first impression as I looked over the wall was of an overgrown cemetery very similar to Nunhead in London but I did not go into it until I was on my way back from Hollybrook. I entered through the gate in Hill Street which comes out roughly half way. And then I saw that inside it was a different ball game altogether. The 2 chapels and lodge are beautiful buildings, and the area surrounding them has some magnificent headstones around them.

The notice board had revealed that there were a number of graves with a connection to the ill fated Titanic, either through family members being buried there, or through a crew member being mentioned on a grave. They had been mapped out over the years and pegged so finding them isn’t too difficult, although reading them is. I have covered these graves in the blog, and more images of the cemetery are available in my gallery  at allatsea.
The cemetery does not get trimmed as much as would be expected because of the abundant fauna and flora that has made it their home, It is also a popular place for locals to gather and take a stroll, or have  a drinking spree depending on their inclination. Parts of it are really very wild and almost impassable, but that does add to the charm of the place. Being a maritime city, there are a lot of graves with a nautical theme, and the anchor is a prominent feature of many memorials. In fact there were a number of memorials that I had not seen before in any cemeteries in London or South Africa. 
Of course there are the usual crop of angels and cherubs that seem to be universal in all cemeteries, or should I say compulsory? 
And once again the moss and lichen have created a vivid blanket in so many different ways. It is strange how it seems to have an affinity with certain monuments, or possibly it is the stone that attracts them? 
They certainly add a splash of colour to everything, and even the boundary wall of the cemetery is covered with moss. 
There is only one mausoleum in the cemetery, but it could be that there was no real urge to show how well to do you were in a town that relied on the sea for its well being; unlike London that had the ever present burden of the court and society to dictate fads and fashions. However, there are some really nice headstones, and a number do have naval or military themes. 
Realistically many sections are really just areas of grassland with the occasional headstone or mound which is in keeping with the maintenance policy.  I would not like to  have to find a grave in this cemetery unless it was pegged first!
There are a number of graves that do seem to be regularly visited, and quite a few headstones have been tended by relatives. That is an encouraging sign because it does ensure that this cemetery does not become an empty derelict. It is doubtful that any new burials are taking place in its 27 acres, but I am sure specific requests do get carried out.
The Friends of Southampton Old Cemetery regularly undertake conservation workdays and guided walks around the cemetery, and on my second trip were holding two walks geared towards the Titanic related graves. Unfortunately it had been raining for quite some time so I don’t know how well these were attended. But it was a pleasant surprise to find one of the “friends groups” at a cemetery when I was there. 
And, yes, there are famous people buried here too, but I like to think that there were more everyday people than notables. Because those huge monuments that get erected eventually become just one more thing to gawk up 100 years down the line. 
The one interesting connection to South Africa in this cemetery is the grave of Charles Rawden Maclean, or John Ross as we know him.
Southampton Old Cemetery is the local equivalent of Highgate, and it does a remarkably good job of it too. I have returned to it at least 3 times since I came to Southampton, and it keeps on springing new surprises on me, and I will hopefully return there again because I still have graves to find, and time marches on.
Unfortunately I left Southampton in November 2013, but I miss the old cemetery, it was a great place to gravehunt, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I also photographed the war graves there as well as attended the Remembrance Day Service there in 2013. It was a welcoming place, and I miss it.
© DRW 2013-2018. Images replaced 31/03/2016
Updated: 28/12/2017 — 07:53
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