A large number of our principal citizens gathered in Church Square yesterday afternoon, with the many immediate friends of the bereaved family, in order to follow to the grave the funeral of this lady, whose decease was recorded by us on Monday last. The ceremony took place in the Wesleyan Cemetery, the neatness and beauty of which bear testimony to the kindly care of Mrs. FLETCHER, with whom (as well as with other members of her family since her illness) it has long been a labour of love to attend to the adornment of the last resting place of so many of our early colonists and their descendants.
Extract from The Grahamstown Journal Wednesday 5 April 1882. [Bolding of words is mine].
The Wesleyan Cemetery forms a part of the larger cemetery in Grahamstown that is often referred to as the ‘old cemetery’ as the ‘new’ one is situated much further away. Look on in horror at what this historical cemetery looks like today:
This overgrown unkempt cemetery filled with historical graves that provide a capsule of the history of the town is not only scattered with litter, but has been vandalised and it is in fact unsafe to clamber through the weeds and bushes on one’s own. Ironically, a strong metal fence, fancy gates and a sturdy lock guard one roadside frontage, whilst the fence has been torn down elsewhere as people have made a path through it – a shortcut into town.
Most of the rusty metal railings surrounding graves have either been broken or removed – doubtless to sell as scrap metal. This is one of the few that has survived such an onslaught. For how long?
We had visited the cemetery with out of town friends who were looking for graves with a family connection – a very difficult task under the circumstances. Not many graves were still upright and in a fairly good condition like this one:
An astounding number of gravestones have been deliberately pushed over:
Given the climate and the age of the cemetery, it is probably natural that some of the sun-baked bricks would erode – although we felt that some were being deliberately gouged out:
Even the marble lion atop a memorial honouring men from various regiments who had died while serving during various Frontier Wars has had part of its face smashed:
Sadly, this is the fate of many cemeteries, especially those in rural towns.