Tuesday, 17 January 2012
St Peters churchyard, on the busy Princes Highway in the suburb of St Peters, is my kind of graveyard. Overgrown and falling into disrepair, I think its absolutely beautiful. I've known of it for years, always intended to visit but never had. I'm glad I did.
Cooks River Parish was named after the river which flows through it. On 13 May, 1838 the first service was conducted in a temporary church. The foundation stone of the present church was laid on 7 July 1838, and the building was completed in November 1839. Thomas Bird was the architect and the builder Henry Knight, of Macdonaldtown. St Peters is one of the oldest churches in the suburbs of Sydney. Built of sun-dried bricks, by free labour, it represents the English Commissioner’s Gothic style in Australia. Twelve pillars, made of ironbark, support a plaster vaulted nave. The church itself, which I remembered as being quite run down, has had a new paint job and seems now to be Evangelical Christian.
Adjacent to the church is the graveyard which was in use from March 1839 till April 1896. Bishop Broughton consecrated the graveyard on December 26th, 1840. There are 2,515 people listed in the burial register. Two thirds of these burials are of children under the age ten. Of the two thirds, more than half are under three years. There are many memorials to the pioneers of the district and beyond. Symbols of a past era – draped urns, hourglasses and broken branches are carved on the headstones. The graveyard is not only a place of burial, but a great source of social history.
St Peters Cooks River History Group has an open afternoon on the first Saturday of every month which would be worth a look.
Stories behind the graves can be found on the St Peters Cooks River History Group website.
The text at the other end of this grave reads "Erected by his brother officers to the memory of Henry Reeve, Money Order Department. Son of Lieut L(?) A Reeve RM. Born in England 1 November 1821. Died at Newtown 21 June 1875."
For more taphophilia please visit Julie's Taphophile Tragics.