Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Sepia Saturday 220: Monuments

Yes, I'm late with Sepia Saturday this week, but at least I've had a go.  If you want to know more about Sepia Saturday, click here.

This week we have to post photos of monuments.  I chose headstones as my theme seeing that I visited numerous headstones today of my ancestors, plus saw some interesting sights.

I went to Bromley Cemetery which is in Christchurch, New Zealand.  I've harped on about the Christchurch Earthquakes before so I won't go into detail again, only to say that the earthquakes have really wrecked our local cemeteries.  While walking around there were several council vans, some doing gardening and some fixing up the land issues at the cemetery.  There was a guy on a digger trying to level the ground again.  He said hi and went to have his lunch as I came along the pathway.  You could see where he had been digging, trying to lessen the amount of potholes on the pathways.  He also had been placing wooden stakes on the graves that needed major repair.  When this repair is going to be done, God only knows.  There are thousands of gravestones that need repairing.

I found most of the stones I was looking for.  I can tell you, if you want your own gravestone to survive and earthquake, put a slab in.  A modest sized slab with etched in letters so that they can't come off (like lead). My ancestor Edwin Lord and his wife chose a headstone that wasn't too high and very solid and it has lasted the test of time!
Grave of Edwin and Mary Lord (my great great grandparents)

But don't have an inserted panel on a slab.  They can just fall off, like this one on my ancestors' stone.

If you want your headstone to topple, then make it really really tall like this one

Gravestone of Jabez and Mary Ann Lord and their daughter Ellen Lord, taken 26 March 2014.

One of my relations, Henry Pearce, I searched and searched for.  He might have an unmarked grave.  Or maybe this is his stone, totally flattened by another during a 7.1 earthquake!

And finally don't ever put beautiful madonnas on your headstone that tower above your final resting place.  This one is now sleeping peacefully in Bromley Cemetery, tucked away in a forgotten corner.

Not everything has fallen.  Some strong monuments to the dead have survived, like this beautiful angel, bringing hope to us poor Christchurch residents.


  1. I've never really thought about the impact of earthquakes on a cemetery, but I'm sure a stroll through one in the aftermath is bound to make you reflective. I enjoyed your observations about what works and what doesn't. The metal plaque seems to solve the issue of potential crumbling.

    1. Yes a metal plaque which is more common these days would be ideal really. Good thinking Wendy!

  2. Thanks for the advice re headtsones! Another reason to opt for cremation. Something especially poignant about the 'fallen angel’.

  3. It doesn't need an earthquake to do this to cemeteries. Just take a walk through the Symonds Street Cemetery in Auckland and see the destruction wrought by time, trees and vandals. I think many are like that. Good advice re the lettering on headstones. Having spent a lot of time trying to read inscriptions on headstones, I can vouch for lettering chiselled into a hard rock like granite to be the best.