Among The Bushes And Briars That Guard 250,000 Of Plymouth`s Citizens Sleeping At
Ford Park Cemetery
Plymouth, Devonport And Stonehouse Cemetery
(click to enlarge)
among blitz bomb damage and red poppies
Murdered by savages
John Williams Coach while in the Island of Espiritu Santo (now popular with Australian tourists) on 2nd. April 1874 at an age of only 35 yrs. was: (rubbing MURDERED) - (rubbing BY SAVAGES)
"Murdered by Savages"
V.C. ......VICTORIA CROSS - ROYAL NAVY
George Hinckley V.C. died on December 31st. 1904
V.C. ......VICTORIA CROSS - ARMY- FROM THE CRIMEA
Captain Andrew Henry V.C., Royal Garrison Artillery, died at the Royal Citadel in Plymouth 14th. October 1870.
"he received the second victoria cross awarded to the royal regiment of artillery for successfully defending his gun at the battle of inkerman against heavy odds . although severely wounded for this action he was also commissioned in the field"
THE PENINSULA WAR
Major William Gambol of the 85th. Regiment of Light Infantry, died 21st. February 1854, was wounded in 1811 at the Siege of Radios when in the 95th. Rifle Corps and was awarded the Peninsula Medal from Queen Victoria. Just look at the superb casting of a soldiers equipment at the base of this memorial. On this memorial there is much inscribed about this Majors exploits; however it is very fine and can only be read in certain sun angles. Alternate views with different sun angles, memorial, ...soldiers equipment.
THE WRECKING VICAR
Robert Stephen Hawker was the Vicar of Morwenstow in North Cornwall and in part of the 19th century gained a reputation for luring vessels close to dangerous rocky reefs in order for them to founder and allow his "flock" an income in "gifts" ie. the remains of their cargoes that would be plundered. (read)
"Pray for His Soul"
Inscribed "rudely" as in crudely or simply, about the base of the Cross is this:
"I Would Not Be Forgotten In This Land"
Everything has to be invented, and so was the "military" stretcher...collapsible, lightweight and easily portable and stored. John Neil Robertson, Fleet Surgeon Royal Navy, died Dec. 22nd. 1914, aged 41. Another one to die young. The cross seems to have been broken off this monument. How is it that nobody today remembers this fine person and comes to repair his headstone. Being a military grave the grass is kept back, but finance prevents anything more.
THE BLIND INSTITUTE
Mary Ann Hockaday was for 40 years Matron of the South Devon and Cornwall Institution for the Blind. Passed away on 26th. February 1912 aged 76 years.
Her husband, William Henry Hockaday rests with her, passing away on 6th. August 1915 aged 79 years, he was Superintendent of the Blind Institution. Sharing their grave are their two infant children who they lost on infancy.
Edwin J. Hinvest died January 27th. 1888, aged only 25 years.
THE ROYAL EYE INFIRMARY
John Butter M.D. F.R.S. was the founder in 1821 of the Plymouth Royal Eye Infirmary, passing away on 13th. January 1877, aged 85 years.
THE TAX MAN AND THE CUSTOMS OFFICER
William R. Woodward, Supervisor of Inland Revenue, passed away 25th. May 1898, aged 76 years.
Charles Woodward, Assistant Collector of Customs London, passed away 3rd. November 1909, aged 55 years.
BOND, JAMES BOND 007
It is said that Ian Fleming came to this cemetery when doing research for his first book of what would be known as "James Bond." He needed a name of a person that was no longer alive for his main character and by chance saw this one, and liked it.
It is for an Albert James Bond who died on 2nd. July 1945 at 79 yr. (rubbing JAMES) - (rubbing BOND)
Henry Creese, Engineer, aged 45, was a victim of this perhaps first ever "international"disaster. Another two graves are believed to be in Tavistock.
"Who lost his life by the sinking of the S.S. Titanic after she collided with an iceberg on her maiden voyage to New York, 15th. April 1912" ( read) - (rubbing TITANIC) - (rubbing ICEBERG)
"Sacred to the memory of MAY. The beloved wife of W.R.Bennett M.M. whose heart died when his own darling wife died in his arms, in lat. 5.40N, long 28.30W on Nov. 27th 1894 aged 27 years and 9 months and was buried here Jan. 14th 1895."
SHE WAS FAITHFUL AND TRUE, BELOVED BY OFFICERS AND CREW. SHE IS IN HEAVEN AN ANGEL.
"Thy Will be Done"
* this location is about toward the UK side of mid Atlantic
"Jack" - Killed in Action on HMS Indefatigable
Richard John Northey (Jack) killed in action on May 31st. 1916, aged 26 years.
SCOTT OF THE ANTARCTIC
Lieut. Commander F.E Dailey D.S.C. R.N. retired passed away on 19th. December 1961, aged 88 years. He was a member of Walter Scott`s Antarctic Expedition that we all know ended so tragically. This man was an officer on board Scott`s ship, The "Discovery." (rubbing)
"Duty Well Done, Deeds Not Words"
Scott`s Expedition 1901 to 1904
THE PLYMOUTH BLITZ OF WORLD WAR II
In the Second World War Plymouth suffered many severe air raids by the German Luftwafe, killing close to 2,000 civilian and military people in the Plymouth area. Several bombs fell close by and in the cemetery. Houses close by were destroyed as was one of the Chapels in the cemetery. Shrapnel from the exploding bomb that took out the Chapel shot off in a straight line and made many holes as it shot and pierced it`s way through several headstones. Also shrapnel from a blitzed house in the road just next to the cemetery has made another dead straight series of holes through headstones. Amazingly the head of the energy released by this red hot shrapnel grinding its way through cold stone has melted the metal that makes the inscription letters, forming now a solid puddle of once molten metal. One headstone even has a piece of shrapnel still in it, it1s presence being revealed by a rust mark oozing out.
The molten "4" of 4th. April 1877, ( Thomas Henry S. Fox 22 months) note dent and solidified melt - (close up) : back view showing scab of stone cracked off by impact on other side, note spider web streaks of cracks radiating out from centre : same size brass "rubbing" of the frontal impact. This is also the family grave of the Bakewell family.
Rust oozes out from deep buried shrapnel fragments. This is the grave of Mary Ann Eddy (17.10.1886) and John Martin and other Martin family members.
The Williams family grave (Louisa 4.1.1913) shows huge hunks of stone blown out my impact with a large piece of shrapnel, front and side.
THE CHIEF CONSTABLE OF DEVONPORT John Matters, who passed away on November 22nd. 1911 at 75 years had his grave under aerial attack too. (rubbing of hole)
A clean hole is seen through the Medland family grave (William 16.6.1887). Alternate view.
Two parallel holes here in these two side by side graves. On right, grave of Every (14.10.1880), Hill and Drummond; left is the grave of Joseph Tottle (20.9.1865) and his "feliot" ? Elizabeth Ann who was the wife of Michael Wilton? Front - and back view.
On this headstone the shrapnel exit points are larger (rubbing) than the entry points, - (rubbing) as is usually the case, upon impact the shrapnel deforms to an object with a bigger surface area, so is "wider" when it exits the "target" when compared to it`s size at entry, the kinetic energy in the flying shrapnel which dissipates on impact also causes a scab to be blown of the back of it`s target. This is the family grave of the Wardens (William Hoskin Warden 7.12.1901).
During these air raids it was to be expected that before too long a bomb or two! would find a direct hit within the cemetery. One night in 1941 this indeed did happen and many graves were blasted into the air and a Chapel destroyed. Local lore dictates that bodies were blown around a wide area and the whole structure of part of the cemetery was disturbed. To this day that part remains much as it did after that raid, except that nature has hidden the scars of war. This area is totally impenetrable, overgrown with brambles and vegetation. Her and there, parts of headstone reveal themselves, and a diligent explorer will find a totally hidden grave from time to time. Over the last years we have seen warm winters due to global warming that has meant that the winter die-back of vegetation has not been as effective as in earlier pre -war days, so the advance of mother nature taking back what is hers is unrelenting. It must be said however that the area now has a quiet contentment about it and is home to much wildlife, I feel that those that rest there would not be too displeased.
Not forgetting that there could be the odd U.X.B. or two!
From time to time wartime materiel of a long passed era comes to light - a white painted lead musket ball, probably dropped a century and more ago by a naval or military man in full dress attending a funeral of a fellow.
THE A8 SUBMARINE BOAT DISASTER AT PLYMOUTH IN 1905
A SAILOR FROM DEFIANCE
Louis Barber, Gunner, died 9th. June 1897, aged 41. See my other web pages on HMS Defiance and learn just what this was and how important it was. One can only wonder if Louis Barber is in any of the photos. How young for a fine man to die.
92nd GORDON HIGHLANDERS
Lieut. Gen. Campbells Family Vault.
Lieut. General John Campbell, Colonel, 92nd. Gordon Highlanders, died December 28th. 1871
THE NAVAL COMMANDER
James Smail Commander R.N. passing away on 3rd. March 1870. His son, midshipman of HMS Tweed, John Horton Clement Smail, who died at sea on 7th. March 1850 at 17 years, is remembered here - obviously he was buried at sea.
TOZER - A FAMOUS OLD PLYMOUTH SHOP, IS THIS THE SAME NAME?
Aaron Tozer Captain R.N. passing away on 21st. February 1954 at 85 years.
COLUMNS AND VAULTS
Some graves have a Column to mark them. Some of these Columns are complete with a capped top, while others are broken. If the Column is complete (or finished), it shows a complete and unbroken line of descent, however if broken, it shows that with this death, the line of descent has been stopped and will not continue. Sitting as they do among the varied Victorian funerary furniture, they can make a scene reminding one of a romantic ruin.
Apart from the usual grave and headstone, some rich and large families have a family vault. About 23 feet deep when first cut and divided horizontally into coffin sized compartments. The first coffin is placed in, being lowered by careful and skillful use of ropes and strops. Once in position, a stone slab is cemented in on top of the coffin to seal the chamber. In due course the next coffin will arrive and be placed on top of the stone slab that seals the first occupant; then this one is sealed....and so on. At the surface there is the entrance which when sealed forms the inscription platform for the personal details of those within.
NATURE PROTECTS, GUARDS AND HIDES
Perhaps cemeteries come from a different age, where old age and ancestors were held in reverence, where young family members did never forget old family members. Where honour and tradition meant something, where marriages were for ever, truly until death us do part, where children had a mother and a father...and they knew who they were. Where "divorce" was just a word in the dictionary. Where a Sunday afternoon outing would be to put flowers on a Grandparents grave...and tidy it.....and not like today where it is a trip to Burger King!
With warmer winters these recent years the winter die back of vegetation has not been as full as in previous years. Even when cleared and weeded and tidied, it is the very next day, certainly the next week, and in a month or two, the ivy fingers stretch out to reclaim their domain. Next year the recovery of the grave to Mother Nature is near complete. And of course there are 250,000 graves to do. Many animals and birds have made a scene like this their home, foxes, rabbits,hedgehogs, squirrels, lizards and slow worms make a scene like this their home. On a positive side all these brambles, prickles and thorns form a formidable defence and deterrent to even the most determined yet cowardly vandal. And just what is wrong with a nature reserve. Ivy and painful thorns keep the cemeteries secrets safe, to read the inscriptions and learn the history, you have to be brave and pay the price of a thorn to read an epitaph. We all know the spread and speed of weeds and ivy and bramble, in a small garden, just think of all this then please.
Often one is dazzled by the light reflected by the sun of century old polished granite and marble, making even a dull day in a graveyard quite bright, where among the bushes and briars of a city at eternal rest, modern Plymouth, home of noise and bustle, of technology unheard of by those at rest, looms over the hillside.
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and the blackberries taste so sweet
all we really want is peace
2004- much has now changed at Ford Park with active restoration and conservation, weeds gone, briars cut back, walls mended - come and visit for yourself, these are images of how it was c 1998, now it is so different and so much improved.
another "content over style" cyberheritage page from Steve Johnson
Plymouth, Devonport And Stonehouse Cemetery
e-mail Steve Johnson
"ALL MY HISTORY IS WITHIN THESE FEW ACRES", link to steve johnson`s cyberheritage main index pages of local history web sites"