Great Grandfather’s Grave

A couple of days ago I started writing this and suddenly found I was writing about a German First World War cemetery. This time I’ll keep myself under control and tell you about a rather grand, overgrown grave in Redruth’s St Day’s Road cemetery.

This cemetery has been filled and is unkempt and uncared for. Articles in Cornish newspapers suggest I’m not the only person to think this.

Our first visit to the cemetery was back in 2003. On that occasion we found no grave of family significance although an internet search had told us that William Hall, great grandfather who died in 1907 was buried there.

Having talked to various people about likely areas, on our next attempt we found the grave. Here it is from October 31st 2005.

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The graveyard itself was quite tidy then, but our William’s grave was so overgrown with prickles – holly and brambles, that we just couldn’t read what it said.

I realised that we had a bread knife in the car and UI went to get it so that we could attack and remove some of the vegetation. Soon a police helicopter was hovering overhead at which point I realised we were in a somewhat strange situation. Remember the date – it was the early evening of Halloween. We were in a grave yard and armed with an exceedingly vicious weapon. Had someone told the police they had seen me entering the grave yard with a huge knife? I can tell you, I felt quite scared, not by the graveyard, for no dead person has ever harmed me yet, but I am a law abiding person and I wondered how much the police would believe a story. I could explain everything. We were on holiday and had brought with us an unsliced loaf for picnics. Being unsliced, we had brought the bread saw. And of course we were genuine genealogists who had found an overgrown grave.

Fortunately, no stories were needed. The helicopter buzzed away and a rather shaken I could attempt to clear the grave.

Can I say that if you want to remove brambles and holly, a bread saw, even one purporting to be ‘the sharpest knife in the world’ is hopeless. But eventually, we almost had enough cleared and we could read what our grave said.

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Our next visit was on May 30th 2011. We found the grave was worse than ever and the whole cemetery was in a very poor state.

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We were on holiday, but this time we were in a little cottage. Our bread saw normally travels with us, but with a proper base, it wasn’t in the car. But what I had was a sort of Swiss army penknife which a very nice former pupil gave me as a Christmas present. Now there you have quite a useful tool for grave clearance. It wasn’t Halloween and I didn’t feel threatened by hovering helicopters. We actually got the grave quite tidy.

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This time we could even read the addition about Grace, his wife and our great grandmother.

No doubt the grave is overgrown again, now. William and Grace’s children moved away from the Redruth area and all died many years ago now. All of his grandchildren have died and the UK branch of the family all live a very long way from Redruth. We are by far the nearest at a mere four and a half hours car journey away (if the traffic is easy). It isn’t a place you just pop to.

But next visit I’ll make sure I have my trusty penknife with me.

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