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Gravestones used as pavements


shefscot
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I emailed Sheffield Cathedral a couple of weeks ago to ask if there's a record of what was on the Gravestones, no reply yet but they're probably affected by lock-down at the moment. Also emailed the Council to ask about St Philips; I found some ancestors were buried there pre-1840s so their 'stones will have.. gone? I read that apart from the memorials built into the wall at Hillsborough Barracks, the rest were sold on & smashed up to use in walls-! 🤬 I'll update if I find any info. on transcriptions.
*On a positive, the older part've the General Cemetery (bit the Council didn't get to trash) was saved by 'Friends of TGC', in the nick of time! I remember visiting early '90s & being so worried by state of it (Me & a friend even wrote to Council to volunteer to tidy it in the school 6 weeks holiday! No reply & being 14 we didn't have garden tools so it fizzled out)- But thankfully people more organised took it on! They've done a fantastic job, & put on loads of events, inc. History Walks, & social do,s in the renovated Chapel, & written books about the Cemetery; https://www.gencem.org/ 💜 https://www.facebook.com/SheffieldGeneralCemetery

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*Nothing from Cathedral as yet, but Kay Rodgers, asst. manager Bereavement Services, very kindly replied; "After a number of phone calls and e-mails, it would appear that Sheffield Archives have a record of headstones and inscriptions from St Phillips, which you can search through. Unfortunately, at the moment, they are closed due to Covid restrictions.  However, they are hoping to re-open again in May 2021. Their e-mail address is archives@sheffield.gov.uk" - Fantastic news! 🤩 Obviously still a shame, bordering on sacrilegious, about destroying the monuments, but sounds like they at least kept records, hope they transcribed them all; would've been quite a lot?! Inc. my relative's, assuming they had gravestones.

 

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The people who’s graves have been trashed were sufficiently respected by their nearest and dearest to honour their lives, Those who trashed them are unlikely to be respected by anyone, but they don’t care, such are the times that we live in, however we don’t have to join the brain dead.

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I’ve always been appalled by the complete disregard shown by the people responsible for using the headstones as ordinary flagstones, a loved ones visual reminder of a life that has ended naturally or by illness or accident, shame on the person or persons who came up with idea and just to widen a road.

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3 hours ago, DaveJC said:

The people who’s graves have been trashed were sufficiently respected by their nearest and dearest to honour their lives, Those who trashed them are unlikely to be respected by anyone, but they don’t care, such are the times that we live in, however we don’t have to join the brain dead.

Unfortunately there's many a cemetery in Sheffield, and I guess up and down the country, where graves have been trashed or treated with disrespect. I live opposite Darnall cemetery where headstones have been smashed in or vandalised with graffiti. General waste was even dumped on them.

There's no respect for the living so what chance do the dead have. 

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On 11/05/2018 at 00:41, History dude said:

Not walking on a gravestone is a bit of a superstition rather than respect. Most churchyards and cemeteries have bodies under the grass, that never had a stone. Many were just wooden crosses that marked graves.

Since graves were paid for and still are, the authorities in charge of them, respect the conditions for the grave for the time stated in the paid settlement. However unless it is renewed by some relation of the original owner. Then the authorities can do what they like with the stones.

Though we might think we are walking on the person's grave when the stone is laid flat, we obviously are not, since the grave of the person would be in front of the inscription, not under the stone. If the there were other graves and stones at the back of the stone, then somebody else's burial is under the current stone. That's assuming that the stones have not been moved to another part!  

In many cases the stones have been removed completely.  I found that the gravestones of my ancestors have all been removed, at both the Burngreave and General Cemeteries.       

I have had teh same at Burngreave with gt grandparents gravestones. The Secretary of Friends of Burngreave Cemetery told me not only were they removed, they were smashed up. Thankfully all MI's were transcribed before  these were removed.

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All the ones that have been removed should have been photographed too, i've complained about it for years to no avail. 'Eleves n safety' is the stock answer.

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1 hour ago, RichardS said:

All the ones that have been removed should have been photographed too, i've complained about it for years to no avail. 'Eleves n safety' is the stock answer.

Totally agree with that. I can't see it being that dangerous too. It could be done when they are being removed. These days with digital cameras it's cheap too.

Of course a lot of the stones would be unreadable, but that doesn't stop you taking them that are not. The only problem that I can foresee is graves covered with brambles. And overturned stones, but if you are clearing them away the stones would need to be lifted by a team of people anyway.

Besides it's more efficient than transcribing and faster! No spelling mistakes and the style of text and size, showing what was important and what not so is shown on the stone, plus the kind of stone used and if it was expensive. Telling you how rich the family was. You can't get that from somebody writing down the inscription.

Examples of expensive graves and cheap ones below:  

Joseph Tew001.jpg

Barkby City Rd Cem003.jpg

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I’ve told my son to scatter my ashes in the Peak District, in a place that we both love. After working in Montague House (situated in the cemetery) I’ve seen what has been done to the graves of some of Sheffield’s finest, mine wouldn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell.

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While just wandering round Town with a camera, I found myself in the Cathedral grounds so I started reading the gravestones that are now used as paving stones, a practice I detest, these stones represent the life and death of the people who were lain beneath them, I realise that the bodies of the deceased have been moved but the families who paid for these stones did so because of these sad events in life, thought that their loved ones would sleep in their final resting place forever along with their headstones which would briefly tell the reader about the persons interred below, but this outrage has been  done and cannot be undone. One of the gravestones I came across was for three children of William & Elizabeth Westnedge who lived a few yards away from the what was then the parish church on Townhead Street, the three children are James aged 9 who died on May 23rd 1832, Jacob  aged six who died on the 7th of June 1838 & Michael who succumbed to death on the 10th of September 1838 aged 13, could you imagine the pain of loosing three sons, two of them within four months of each other, I was so touched by William and Elizabeth’s sad loss, the inscription on the stone would not leave me so I decided to find out as to what took their children away, I managed to get the death certificates of Michael and Jacob also known as William, I didn’t manage to get the certificate for James but Michaels cause of death was Decline which was the word the Medical profession used for Tuberculosis which gives a hint in what conditions they were living in, Jacob contracted Measles which was a serious child killer as it is to-day, I suspect that James  may have died of Cholera but I cannot be sure of that but the Cholera epidemic was in 1832 the year of James death , that is  just a suspicion on my part. On William Jacobs death certificate, it cites the his mother Elizabeth was the informant of his death and it graphically shows Elizabeth’s illiteracy as she could only make her mark in the register “X” Elizabeth was the informant for Michael too, so it seems even in mourning William her husband  had to go to work to earn money, no grievance leave in those days, Williams trade was that of a Tailor and it seems as though he had a brother named George who in turn was a Tailor and his wife Caroline gave him at least eight children and on researching William and Elizabeth it seems they had just as many children and lost good deal more while their children were in infancy but William and Elizabeth did try to make their lot a bit better by moving from the slums to the south of  the town after the loss of these three children whilst living in Townhead street but disease lurks everywhere and death knocked for their children no matter where they lived.
A Tailor was a good trade to be in in the 1800s so I suspect that either William and his brother George set up shop for themselves or worked for the same employer but being a Tailor didn’t make you well off , they probably earned just enough to keep debt away from the door and I don’t think it was their choice to live in the town, the slums and hovels were  terrible places to live and try to bring up children, Pigs, Cows and Sheep roamed around town dropping there mess everywhere which didn’t help the bad air of the town. Disease was rife and Cholera hit Sheffield in July 1832 and 1,347 of the townsfolk were hit by the disease of those 402 died and some of the victims were buried in the Cholera grounds on Norfolk Road, the rest were buried in the General Cemetery. With Sheffield being an industrial town and most of the works in the and around the town centre the air was a desperate thing to breathe , plumes of foul smelling black smoke shot out of all the chimneys of the firms but even at home children could not escape the foul air as most cutlery and edge tool makers had a little workshop at home where the children learnt the trade from a young age,  most of them didn’t go to school as the penny a week that it cost to educate a child was just a bit to much to pay, if you had four or five children going to school that five pence could be better spent on food and clothes so the education they received was taught in the streets and lanes and in the pubs of the town. The Crofts of the town were the worse of the worst places to live and they housed the desperately poor of the town, in one account a family lived in a cellar basement with five children and human waste was piled up against the outside wall which there room was situated below, the excrement was over eight feet high and the run off from this horrible mess seeped through the walls into the cellar basement, but what could they do? They couldn’t move, they couldn’t complain, it was a situation they had to live with and now perhaps you can get a vision of the lives of these unfortunate people. There are cases of Mothers committing Infanticide as the burden of trying to care for children  was a cross that was to hard to bear, keeping in mind birth control wasn’t available to them, so to be pushed to committing the act of killing your child just to alleviate the pressure on caring for the other child members of a large family, children were a burden to some families unfortunately.
Doctors were available but were out of reach of the pockets of the poor, so it was home remedies which was their only option and the power of prayer and the church that had to suffice, that’s all they had, I can fully understand but not justify why men and women spent money on the demon drink, it was a way of forgetting there predicament but it was also a way of not feeding their hungry children, in some cases animals faired better than children as they were worth money, children were sometimes thought of as a burden until they were of an age when they could  get a job and bring money into the home. Look at any old photos of the late 1800s that show children and take note of their feet most of the time they have no shoes on and they are dressed in rags, if there were photos in the early part of the century I’m sure they would have looked much worse, these children were never really treated as children, they had no toys, no schooling but they were expected to work from a very early age, going down the mines at ten years of age and over, working with dangerous machinery in the forges and factories of the town, and anyone who lived near Arundel Street, Arundel Lane area had to contend with the foul smell of the Gas Works that operated there but gas was a necessary part of 19th century life. 
Between the years of 1837 to 1842 a survey was undertaken for the causes of death in the Sheffield registration district and over the five years the biggest killer was  Consumption which claimed 1,604 victims of all ages, the next one was inflammation of the lungs which killed 874, on the survey there are several causes of death which are totally unheard of nowadays for instance  decay of nature which turns out to be Dementia, Scrofula which is T.B. of the neck, Marasmus which is malnutrition and Apoplexy that’s bleeding of the organs. There were 426 deaths attributed to Dentition which relates to the growth of teeth, I don’t know for the life of me how that could kill people. On the survey there are 73 causes of death and the saddest to me is want of food, in anybody’s language that’s  starvation. You can peruse the causes of death yourself on the survey printed with this story also there is a copy of a church flyer dated 1891, please take note of the deaths at the foot of the page and you can read the shocking event that befell  John and Clara Effingham of 48 Sylvester Street, on three consecutive days, the 6th, the 7th & 8th of August 1891 their three children died, Leonard aged 2 years and 2 months, next was Elizabeth aged 7 years and 9 months finally Alice aged 5 years and 11 months, try and put yourself into John and Clara shoes, their hearts must have been wrenched from their bodies, to lose one child is tragic but to lose three in three days is just to hard to comprehend, the outpouring of grief must have been tremendous.
So when you complain of a runny nose or a simple cold think of these people who had to endure the worst of times, no Doctors, no National Health, no 999 all they had was prayer and the trust in God, even though I would love to return to these early years mentioned in this script I’m glad I wasn’t born in those hard times and please don’t think this is just my insight of those years, my own Irish Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother had eleven children in Dublin between the years 1874 & 1890 and they lost seven of them under the age of three to consumption or Tuberculosis as its known nowadays, it was just that they lived in the exact same conditions as William and Elizabeth Westnedge and their children, so disease doesn’t have borders and it isn’t choosey, anyone was fair game. One thing I do ask if anyone is touched or can understand the hardship of the Westnedge family highlighted in this brief look back into time, if you find yourself  near the Cathedral in Church Street take a bloom or a bunch of flowers and lay it on their gravestone, its on the East Parade side of the Cathedral, I realise their remains have been moved elsewhere but I like to think their presence remains there in some way, near the area where they lived and died.

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That's a beautiful post, love it! & thanks for the info. 💖 Researching my ancestors gave me a little insight into the hell of the working poor who built our city; I often wonder how they did it; constant death, disease, stench, crowding, slaving in gruelling jobs that barely support existence, no escape. Those 'Find-my past' TV ads never tell you how sad genealogy can be! Much to be grateful for in the 21stC. 
I was in Bradfield recently, some of my relatives left there 1850s - I wonder if Sheffield was as they expected; did they ever regret it?! - St Nicholas Church is beautiful, I noticed that the path is made of ancient tombstones but I've since read that the 'Gravestones forming the path were found in the stonemason's yard & are thought to be practice pieces rather than actual gravestones', which is not so bad, though still kind of odd. But it does happen, that irreplaceable ancient memorials get bizarrely used for paving. Ther'd rightly be outcry if people went in the British Museum or Westminster Abbey and chopped up monuments, yet Graves of the everyday people who built our wealth don't get that same protection; makes no sense.

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