Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Canterbury City Cemetery

 
LOCATION:

The site is located on Westgate Court Avenue, Canterbury, Kent. This is the main entrance but there is one at the rear located on Cherry Garden Road, located just off Whistable Road. The nearest station would be Canterbury West but it is a bit of a walk up a very steep hill so be ready for it! There are buses that go up that way too I believe.


FIRST OPENED:

On June 16th 1876, it was decided that work should begin for a cemetery. The site was first opened on July 4th 1877.


FAMOUS RESIDENTS:

Joseph Conrad - A writer, originally born in the Ukraine but became a British citizen. His novel, "Heart Of Darkness" was adapted into a film by Francis Ford Coppola called "Apocalypse Now".

Thomas Byrne VC - A soldier, born in Dublin, who won his VC at the age of 21. Winston Churchill said that he was "The bravest man I have ever known". There is even a myth that skin from Churchill's own chest was used to save his life.

Cecil (Cyril) Northcote Parkinson - A writer, famous for his 1957 book "Parkinson's Law".

Harry Bloom - A South African journalist and writer. He was the step father of actor Orlando Bloom.

War Graves - There are about 146 WW1 graves and around 54 WW2 ones. They are also commemorated with a cross of sacrifice with its bronze sword.

"Unknown Citizens" - These are the remains of people who were moved from the graveyard of St Mary Bredin, after the site was destroyed by enemy bombs in 1942.


ALSO KNOWN AS:

N/A


SIZE & LAYOUT:

The site was originally 12 acres. A further 8 acres was added in 1923.


THE WALKABOUT:

Canterbury is one of the oldest and most beautiful places in the whole of Kent, if not Britain. I went camping for the weekend near there so it was only right that I should check out one of its graveyards. I found this one and am I glad that I found it! It was a bit of a walk to get here but it was very much worth it. The first thing you will notice, above all, is the sheer size of the place. It is packed full of graves but at the same time it does not look overly cramped and untidy. The only part that isn't full however, is the very neatly done lawn part which I believe is the newest part there. It is almost sectioned off however so it doesn't take away the old look of the place.

What I love most about this place is the greenery. I have never seen so many different types of trees and bushes all in the one place. They even have a little section, a garden of remembrance, that holds at least 8 different types of flower. I have seen nothing like it, something that is not turning into a nature reserve that is. The main building that you will come across is a double chapel (service and remembrance) and a spire. The building is 110 feet tall and is possibly the only real spire in the whole city. Something that I found quite quirky was the display in front of the chapel. There were a couple of altar benches that had little plant pots in them.

In the site there is both a Catholic area and a Muslim area, both with burial grounds also. It is quite unusual to see this, even in today's society with lots of mixed cultures in the one place. I do not know why I liked it so much, maybe it is just nice to see different religions/cultures coming together, in peaceful rest. The one thing I did find slightly odd was that, next to the cemetery lodge house (which is quite popular in larger graveyards), there was a toilet!! I don't know about you but is that really a good idea? They have obviously had no problems with it...

The whole place is almost like a big maze, there are so many little walkways that you could almost get lost. Everything is so old but there aren't too many ruins. The place is very well looked after which makes me very pleased. One little story that I have from the day is our encounter with an old black cat. We came across it just as we were leaving the cemetery. He was very old and quite fat but so attached to us already! He followed us all the way to the entrance then stopped, he wouldn't go no further. Most people would say that he probably got bored or lived near there, I like to think that he guards the cemetery and all of the sleeping residents within it...


ANY GHOSTS?:

As I have said before, many times, in a place as old as this and one that has so much history too it, it is hard not to feel anything. The place was so relaxing that it was easy to open up and experience what was going on around me. When I am on my own, I like to talk out loud (not to be confused with talking to myself!). This time, my boyfriend was with me and I actually got him to do it. Although he is spiritual, he is more of a skeptic than I am so I could sense that he felt a bit silly doing it.

When I finally got home and uploaded my photos, I had a few that had potential "orbs" here and there but nothing that was substantial enough. Until I came across one photo. There was something in it that seemed to stick out. It was a bit of a gloomy day, with bursts of sunshine here and there. It was not raining that day either. I had done all of my tests at home and I could not find an answer. Some people may say that it could be possible light rays, but they are far to bright and only in the one little spot. Plus, it was not sunny when we went to the site. Could it have been a ghostly visitor, coming to say hello to us?
 
Notice the misty white thing on the right hand side. Stands out quite well, but what is it?

FINAL (RESTING) WORD:

There are not many cities left in Britain that look like this one so to actually have a chance to go and not only walk about it but review it, is just a dream. The place has such a beauty and a peacefulness to it, I could almost get lost in it. You certainly feel the history as you walk through it, making it feel older than it actually is. It is such a shame that cemeteries with beauty this grand are fading away...


"Respect those who are not physically here, you can’t see them but they can see you, and disrespect is something they don’t want to see"


RATING: 5/5 - If it was legal, I would actually live here it was that peaceful.


LINKS: http://www.canterbury-archaeology.org.uk/#/cemetery/4557747701



 

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