Being a municipal cemetery, people of all religions and none are buried here. Just past the crematorium is the Garden of Remembrance, this has been planted with lavender, the scent of which envelopes you as you stroll through it. Lavender has long been known for its calming properties and as an extra treat it was buzzing with bees.
In the distance the water tower dominates the skyline. This is a Grade II listed building and part of the Broomy Hill Pumping Station, built in 1856. Water was pumped from the River Wye and stored in a header tank in this tower.
Leaving behind the neat rows of more recent headstones and bouquets of flowers I headed for the old tumbledown neglected part. The solitude is tranquil, the only sounds are the birds singing and the insects chirruping as the wind gently rustles the leaves on the trees.
Subsidence is slowly swallowing many of the old tombstones; weather and lichen obscuring the individual identities below them. Somebody once cared. Now they are being absorbed back into Mother Nature’s nurturing bosom, becoming as one with the very ground, from which new life springs.
Wildflowers have taken over the untended graves; common mallow, knapweed, red clover, buttercups and the oxeye daisy.
This is the big, brash cousin of the common daisy found on lawns, Leucanthemum vulgare, meaning “white flower” from the Greek. The large white petals glow in moonlight giving rise to the alternative name of “Moon Daisy”. The open composite flowers make it easy for pollinators and there were many hoverflies and bees buzzing around them on this sunny afternoon.
Some of the 19th and early 20th century headstones are still readable and one can wonder who they were and what lives they led. Death may be the great equalizer, but those with money could afford more elaborate memorials for their loved ones. Although, over time even these fall into neglect and are reclaimed by nature, often in the form of ivy enveloping them.
There are many war graves from WWII here, often decorated with remembrance poppies. They include many Polish airmen who escaped the Nazi invasion of their homeland and served with the RAF, many settling in Hereford and other parts of the UK when the war ended with the communist invasion of Poland. This is one from an earlier conflict, WWI. Poignantly from the last few months of the war.
An even more sombre mood takes over when one comes across the graves of children. One memorial in particular summed it up with the engraving, “To the world a boy, to us the world.”
The reflective mood is broken by a flurry of wings as some crows take to the air. They have been disturbed by another creature, a squirrel frisks among the broken gravestones. Life goes on, the world keeps on turning.