Although the weather was overcast it was a lot warmer that the last few days. Alan, Andy and Dave decided that their efforts this week would be concentrated on the Phillipps B73 grave, an imposing double grave with large kerbs and posts. The posts that were set on bases which the kerbs fitted into, had all been removed from their position and laid about inside the grave area. The kerbs had also been pushed out of position. It was agreed that new padstones were required so that the post bases and the kerbs at each corner could sit on a level surface.
With a lot of digging out and levering the new pad stones were put in place, then the kerbs were levered into position. Andy took photos as they worked which shows the work as it progressed. All the kerbs and posts are now in position and looking like it did when first erected in 1880 – 1900’s. The next job will be to cement all the pieces back together, but this will have to wait as it will take one or two more work sessions. When they stood back and looked at their handiwork and effort, they felt it was well worthwhile.
The Phillipps memorial in 1865.
Sunday 14 April
Andy, Alan, Rita, and Dave were joined by our Chairman and Archivist Miles and Michelle today. It was quite a cold morning so we got them working straight away just to keep warm.
Alan, Andy and Dave concentrated on cementing all the large pillars and kerbs of the Phillips grave into position: they did a great job with just two pillars to put back in position on our next visit. To allow the cement to dry they covered each corner with a large dumpy bag to prevent the joints getting too wet if it rained or dry out too quickly if it gets too hot. (No one knew the weather forecast!)
Meanwhile Rita, Miles and Michelle concentrated on clearing the elder saplings which were growing around the large yew tree bordering the houses in Wembdon Road, filling a large dumpy bag. They then moved over to the yews tree in the centre of the St Mary’s section, clearing holly, ivy and elder saplings. After Miles and Michelle had left to make their way back to Glasgow, Rita moved over near the boys and weeded the Fletcher B 63, Colsey B53 and Murch B71 graves.
Leaving the cement to set in the Phillips grave, the boys turned their attention to the Smith B80 grave immediately behind the Phillips grave. The kerbs and posts had come apart, they dug out the kerbs and posts, cleaned all the debris away returning the kerbs and posts back in their correct position ready for cementing together on our next visit.
Wednesday 17 April
Alan decided he would like to go in the cemetery today to finish cementing the posts of the Phillips grave. He rang Andy who was free and emailed Dave and they met in the cemetery about 10.30: just as the sun broke through the fog.
Fine Memorial came in on Monday to finish off work on the Counsell (B1), Waddell (B2) and Moyle (B9) crosses which were a little loose and to finish off the Laver grave (H11) which they started a few weeks ago. While they were in, they worked on the Helps (C11) which had been laid down as it was unsafe and fragile, they glued the headstone to a large base stone to give it support.
Alan, Andy and Dave mixed up a batch of cement and cemented two posts back in position that were loose on their bases and cemented and packed the other two that moved slightly but could not be lifted off their bases.
Dave cleared out the centre of the Smith grave (B80) which was overgrown with grass and the stone chipping which will need to be replaced. The kerbs and posts are ready to be cemented back into position, but this will be done another day.
They then moved over to the Helps grave, Fine Memorial had made a good job of gluing the headstone to the new concrete slab and laid it on a slight slope so that rainwater would run off. The large base stone that the headstone had been secured to was not level so it was decided to lever up and pack level. Fine Memorial had cut off the large rods that had secured the headstone to the base stone, Alan will try to get some white cement to fill in the mortice base stone where the headstone had been set in. Next job is to lay the kerbs around the headstone and make good.
The lads were pleased with their efforts particularly with the Phillips grave where the large kerbs and posts were once buried below undergrowth now stand proud again.
Sunday 21 April
A very hot sunny day, Alan, Andy, Rita & Dave in the cemetery. The priority today was the Helps C11 grave. It had been decided as the headstone had been laid down due to deterioration of the stone, and looked at on Wednesday, today the job was to sort out the kerbs. Earth was dug our and new padstones laid in followed by the kerbs which when levelled etc. were cemented back into position. Earth put back in and levelled around the grave. The headstone was given a gentle clean which has brought up the lettering making it easier to read. All that is left to do is to add stone chipping between the headstone and the kerbs and the job will be finished. The boys were pleased with their efforts. During the heavy work, Rita weeded four graves near the front of the cemetery, then moved over to the holly tree in the centre of the cemetery where branches were growing a bit too low, so these were trimmed and put in a dumpy bag on the debris pile. She then found a nice job in the shade in the centre of the two yew trees which needed a little more trimming: job done.
Sunday 28 April
The A team were working in the cemetery today. Alan, Andy and Astrid. Alan and Andy first worked on the Helps grave, building up the earth around the grave, laying in black membrane and rock salt (to try and keep the weeds down) and then adding stone chipping round the edges. Now looking good. The boys then moved on to the Smith grave B80 which Dave started to clean out 10 days ago. Alan chipped off the old cement on the kerbs, while Andy put the finishing touches to the Helps, then they cemented the kerbs back in position. Final job of the day was to infill the Phillips grave with earth, next job here will be to add rock salt (awaiting a supply) lay down black membrane and then add stone chipping.
The stages of repairing the Helps memorial.
While the boys were busy Astrid was working up in the bluebell area planting wild flower plugs which Rita had grown in her greenhouse. She then weeded the Rookley, Porter, Walford, Webber, Taylor and Gilbert graves in Section B.
Last year's English Bluebells
The new wild flower plugs
A lady from Ilminster came in the cemetery with her son and two small grandchildren looking for her family grave – Bawley. Andy rang Rita who was at home watching the London Marathon (to see if she could see her grand daughter who was taking part), she looked at the records and fortunately the grave had a headstone and was in Plan 10/5 (Section 4 Plot 223) in the Denner/Bawler grave, and Andy and Alan were able to show them where the grave was. They were interested in having the headstone cleaned which had lead lettering, they were advised to contact Fine Memorial who should be able to provide a price to clean the stone.
When Alan popped in the cemetery during the week to get some information, he noticed the cemetery water tap had sprung a leak and he notified SDC. They have been in and dug a fairly large hole (which has been cordoned off) to see what the problem is. Looks like a replacement part will need to be fitted.