On Saturday 20th June 2015, a small group of our members visited Cathays Cemetery in Cardiff. On arrival we were welcomed in the Dissenters' Chapel by members of their Friends Group who gave us tea/coffee and Welsh cakes. Before taking the tour, we were told a little bit about the origins of the cemetery by Tour Leader, Ivor Lippett.
The cemetery was established in 1859. The site purchased at this time was around 30 acres. It now occupies an area of well over 100 acres! The population, as a result of the phenomenal increase in trade and the depression of the agricultural economy which had occurred in neighbouring villages, had grown from 1,870 in 1801 to 18,351 by 1851. It was not only a place just for the dead. It was laid out as an Arboretum with a wide range of trees and shrubs. The graves and memorials were also deliberately adorned with many examples of fine sculpture and religious symbols. The variety of stone and materials used for some of the very majestic memorials and, indeed, some of the smaller grave furniture was stunning. From the time of its inception it was regarded as a place for fresh air and exercise; part of Cardiff's 'green lungs'. It is administered by Bereavement Services, a department of Cardiff Council whom the 'Friends' group support with all aspects of the voluntary work involved in sustaining its care and other activities.
Three Chapels were erected; one for the Church of England, one for the Dissenters and one for the Roman Catholics. With grant funding and other fund raising activity both the Church of England and Dissenters Chapels have been beautifully renovated but in 1986, the Roman Catholic Chapel was demolished.
The extensive 'international' trade which grew so much of the economy of Cardiff is reflected in vast areas of the cemetery where we saw only a few of the thousands of interments of people from across the globe.
We were particularly moved by the War Graves area which contains a Memorial Cross. The graves, beautifully tended by the War Graves Commission, and the whole area planted with roses and other flowering shrubs and an expanse of lawned area all surrounded by well established trees truly was a peaceful Garden of Remembrance.
We visited at exactly the right time as we enjoyed the wide diversity of flora and fauna.