A Graveyard Bimble

Illustration of crowHereford’s municipal cemetery is perhaps not the most obvious place for a bimble, but bear with me. Having visited it many times on business, I thought I would try a visit for pleasure instead.

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.

Photo of water towerIn 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.

Photo of old grave stonesSubsidence 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.

Photo of oxeye daisyThis 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.

Photo of angel headstone sculptureDoctor Who fans may like to pretend that this is a weeping angel, in which case, keep a close eye on it.

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.Photo of 1st WW headstone

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.Photo of squirrel on gravestones

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7 thoughts on “A Graveyard Bimble

  1. I think (old) cemeteries are among the most interesting of locations to walk through. I find the stories on some of the old headstones fascinating, especially when there are group of young children passing away at around the same time. One can’t but help wonder if there was an influenza outbreak or something that might have taken children so young. On the other hand, there are the graves of couples where one has died 30-40 years before the partner. You wonder what took the first one so much earlier in life. How did the remaining partner live their lives in solitary state? Were they sad or did they move on with acceptance and grace? Did they remarry? And so on…….

    I love the long rows of Lavender that were planted in Hereford’s cemetery. As you say, it’s calming properties would make the bereaved feel so much better. To be honest, I think the lilac coloured flower heads make a lovely soft contrast to the grey headstones anyway.

  2. Pingback: A Cemetery Stroll | rambling ratz

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