Saturday, 26 March 2011

Cemetery Destruction

Earlier this year, I visited a cemetery in the north of England which was said to contain a small garden of remembrance to the patients who had died while being guests at the County Asylum. Evidently, four statues stood at a cardinal compass point and were named by the seasons.

What I saw sickened me as I did not know that the memorial had been trashed by vandals. In 2008, vandals destroyed the magnificent garden of remembrance memorial, including its four statues - fragments of which lie on the ground - other parts lie in a heap of rubble next to one of two chapels - equally badly damaged. Two halves of a stone font that was toppled and broken in two lie next to the other chapel. It upsets me every time I look at the photographs.

My research revealed that a number of local youths were later charged by the police, but I can find no record of their sentencing. 

It is know that 995 former patients were buried here - each marked by a memorial or headstone - but, after the local health authority sold the cemetery to developers in 1993, the headstones were taken away. I am still trying to discover what happened to them, but it is likely they were broken up for crazy-paving or crushed for use as hardcore. Three headstones escaped this and lean against a boundary fence alongside. I just cannot fathom why historic headstones could be disposed of like that. What a terrible thing to do!

The developers had the idea of using part of the area for woodland burials and renamed it Ribble Valley Remembrance Park. It has since been sold on.

Beyond the mostly barren plot, lies the Whalley (Queen Mary's Hospital) Military Cemetery. During the First World War, the 2,000 bed Queen Mary's Military Hospital was housed in the County Asylum at Whalley, remaining there until June 1920.

Here is a link to my Flickr set showing all the photographs I took that day - click HERE.


Charles Cowling said...

This is as terribly sad as anything I have ever seen.

Christine H. said...

Absolutely heartbreaking.

S. Lincecum said...

Literally makes with sick with sadness.

Margaret Pangert said...

Those cowards wouldn't have dared do this if it had been a more upscale neighborhood. I'm sure they thought they could get away with it in a poorer area. It is even sadder to me because of that. It is quite touching that those beautiful statues had been placed there. Someone cared.

Sharon Wagner said...

Oh my. There's the motherload of spooky sadness.

Owen said...

What a tragic tale Laurie, can't imagine the level of barbarity some humans have sunk to. It seems to be spreading.

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