Bishopwearmouth Cemetery ~ March 2020

This was Sophie’s and my last outing this year, just after the keep 2 meters apart advice and just prior to the total lockdown. Because we couldn’t go anywhere in the car, we met up near where Sophie lives, at the Bishopwearmouth Cemetary. A quite appropriate visit for the time, as we will see in

The History Bit. ☕️ 🍪

Between 1817 and 1860 the world had 3 cholera pandemics, but for our purposes we are looking at the 2nd one. After dying down by 1824, historians believe the first pandemic hung about in Indonesia and the Phillipines having started out along the Ganges Delta in India. From there it spread along trade routes and reached China by 1828, with Iran being overtaken with it from it’s route through Afghanistan in 1829. Also in ’29 it reached the Ural Mountains, and the first case in Orenburg, Russia. There were 3500 cases including 865 fatal ones in Orenburg province.

 By 1831, the epidemic had infiltrated Russia’s main cities and towns. 250,000 cases of cholera and 100,000 deaths were reported in Russia. Russian soldiers then took the disease to Poland during the Polish-Russian war (1830-1831). Between 16 May and 20 August 1831 4,734 people fell ill and 2,524 died in Warsaw alone. The epidemic reached Great Britain in 1831 when a passenger ship from the Baltic brought it to Sunderland, then Gateshead, Newcastle, and on to London where the first cases occurred on the river, mostly on colliers from the Tyne. On it went to Paris, 20,000 died (out of a population of 650,000), with about 100,000 deaths in all of France. By 1832 it had reached Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia in Canada and Detroit and New York City in the USA, getting to the Pacific coast by 1834.

The British Government had issued quarantine orders for ships sailing from Russia to British ports and issued orders recommending the burning of “decayed articles, such as rags, cordage, papers, old clothes, hangings…filth of every description removed, clothing and furniture should be submitted to copious effusions of water, and boiled in a strong ley (lye); drains and privies thoroughly cleansed by streams of water and chloride of lime…free and continued admission of fresh air to all parts of the house and furniture should be enjoined for at least a week” as preventive action. However the ship arriving at Sunderland was allowed to dock because the port authorities objected to, and therefore ignored, instructions from the government. Well that’s Mackem’s for you.

Bishopwearmouth Cemetery was built as a direct result of the epidemic, as the subsequent overcrowding in churchyards became untenable. It opened at the same time as another new cemetary, Mere Knowles (which you may remember from a previous post, but probably not! 🙂 ) in 1856. Bishopwearmouth Cemetery soon became Sunderland’s main buriel site and separate areas were allocated for all religious denominations. It has been extended a couple of times and now covers 80 acres.

So on with some pictures!

Quaker Buriel Ground
In 1850 the ‘Society of Friends’ agreed for the first time to place stones over the graves of their brethren, with names in full with the date of their death inscribed on them, as prior to 1850 grave markers were not deemed necessary by strict Quaker doctrine.
‘Erected in loving remembrance of Gunner James William Rutherford Trench Mortar Battery Royal Horse Artillery. The beloved son of Thomas and Marie Rutherford who died at Rouen August 1st 1916 from the result of wounds received at Delville Wood.

Martini Maccomo has been recorded as coming from Angola, or the West Indies, or Liverpool, and was also described as a Zulu! His age is also not set in stone. Whatever, it is known that he joined William Manders’ Grand National Mammoth Menagerie in late 1857 at the Greenwich Fair in South East London. Maccomo was advertised as ‘the African Wild Beast Tamer’, ‘Angola’s Mighty Czar of All Lion Tamers’, ‘the Black Diamond of Manders’ Menagerie’,’the Dark Pearl of Great Price’, ‘the most talented and renowned Sable Artiste in Christendom’ and ‘The Hero of a Thousand Combats’. For all those great sobriquets I am not sure he was actually very good at his job! In 1860, at a performance in Great Yarmouth a lion attacked Maccomo and his pistol was accidentally fired into the audience, resulting in a piece of wadding becoming lodged in the eye of a local carpenter named Gillings. In the resulting case of Gillings v. Manders, the plaintiff was awarded £150 in damages. Then in Liverpool in 1861 he got his hand stuck in the mouth of a Bengal Tigress, who wouldn’t let go until an assistant pressed a hot iron bar against her teeth. The following year in Norwich a lion bit his hand and dragged him along the floor, and he lost part of a finger. Finally, in Sunderland in 1869 a lion called Wallace had had enough of him and also attacked him, apparently Maccomo used whips, pistols and knuckledusters during his act. Maccomo contracted rheumatic fever and died in the Palatine Hotel in 1871, where he was staying. Four years later Wallace died too, and is now displayed to this day in Sunderland Museum. Mackem’s I tell you! 🙄

Our days begin with trouble here
our life is but a span
and cruel death is always near
so frail a thing is man.

Cheery little epitaph, and I was disappointed the gravestone didn’t have a carved lion on it!

Thomas Scott Turnbull, the son of saddler John Turnbull, was born in Newcastle on October 28, 1825. After being educated at St Mary’s School, Newcastle, he went to work for “Dunn and Bainbridge” – then the largest drapery firm in Newcastle. Turnbull soon rose to a high position, later gaining further experience of the trade by working in several large commercial houses in London before moving to Sunderland in 1850 and starting his own business. He was extremely forward-thinking, introducing a system of “small profits and quick returns” at a time when established drapers gave long credit. From humble beginnings, he built up his Sunderland-based business “Albion House” into one of the largest drapery houses in Northern England. At his death, it occupied 122-126 High Street West, Sunderland, and the premises included sleeping and dining accommodation for 160 assistants, plus a library of nearly 2,500 volumes for their use. He went into politics as a Liberal and became Mayor of Sunderland in November 1880, but died of Typhoid Fever the following year.

‘A short and painful illness’
I forgot to remember whose grave this was, but it’s beautiful.

I found a few graves with mosaic inlays, so I had to do them of course!

This one intrigued me as it has an ornate carved panel, which I think must have been of brass, bronze or copper, as it was covered in verdigris

This is the detail shot, would be nice to know the story behind it.

The cemetery is nicely looked after, lots of daffodils lining the paths,

There are memorials on trees, and you can see there is a section for commonwealth war graves behind this one.

and a section for children’s graves, always sad.

The chapels are cordoned off for safety and. haven’t been in use for a long time.

So that is the last outing for Sophie and me, who knows when the next one will be. Still, Sunday history lessons will continue, so stay tooned! 🙂

refs: ~ Cholera comes to Britain.

http://www.wikipedia. ~ Bishopwearmouth Cemetery, Martini Maccomo. Cholera Epidemic.

51 thoughts on “Bishopwearmouth Cemetery ~ March 2020

  1. Yay! The email notification is working and what a great post I might have missed. I love old cemeteries – there are so many fascinating stories to be found. In Dumfries there is a mass grave for its cholera victims. Apparently the town went into lockdown, allowing no one to enter or leave. Of course, by then, it was too late as the disease was already in the town. Some things don’t change.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting. Things don’t ever really change do they? Also, we forget so much the cycle of history and so when these things hit us again – it’s like it is happening for the first time. I particularly like hearing about the quarantine – burning of filth (I just like that word – filth). Sanitizing. We’ve (humanity) done this before? But of course – there is nothing new under the sun.
    There is a really good book called “The Fourth Turning” by William Strauss and Neil Howe. It’s a truly fascinating account of Historical cycles but emphasizes generation ‘types’ – specifically how they interact with one another and how that affects current/future events.
    I love the headstones – great pictures and great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A very interesting post, Fraggle. I hope this pandemic doesn’t drag out for (basically) 43 years, like that one. Although…right now I wonder. The photos are lovely — and so is that chapel. I guess I’m greedy for more, but it would have been nice to see the inside. I know you would get gorgeous shots. Hugs on the wing!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I saw. LOL, I was just expressing my gluttony for more photos. I didn’t even imagine beauty in the standard sense. The words “cordoned off” made me think there was a lot of damage. But I imagined what your creative eye could transform to beauty in a photo.
        It also interests me that some of the gravestones had colorful mosaic inlays. Granted, it has been decades since I’ve been to a cemetery, but I don’t remember ever seeing anything like that here. Have a wonder-filled new week.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. “ignored, instructions from the government”
    Well, here, unfortunately, it’s the government that wilfully ignores – for political and economic reasons – the advice of scientists.
    Stay healthy,

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Cemeteries are always full of unanswerable questions. Why wasn’t Mr Kennedy buried with his wife, while his daughter and son-in-law were? Why did Maccomo have no one else to put up a gravestone for him other than his employer?

    The mosaics are interesting. I don’t think I’ve seen any like that in my local cemetery.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Love your history lessons Fraggle….the problem with history seems to be that those who forget history seem to be doomed to live it again, as we are now, and those who remember are condemned to come along for the ride anyway, but with some idea of the terror ahead. We spent an afternoon exploring the cemetary at Rathven, in the north of Scotland a couple of years ago. Many of my ancestors reside there, it was fascinating 🙂


  7. Right. Ignore the quarantine. Let the ship in. Just expand the cemetery. There’s plenty of space. It’ll all be fine. Don’t wear a mask. I was just looking at a photo of a local hearing in the US–it was about requiring masks–and a bunch of nutburgers showed up, tore down the tape meant to keep people distant from each other, didn’t (of course) wear masks, and it looked like two of them were singing.

    Whoever called the hearing very wisely canceled it.

    Liked by 1 person

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