Friday, March 1, 2013


As planned I visited Kew Cemetery yesterday and what a beautiful cemetery it is with its magnificent mausoleums, statues, impressive headstones and large trees. Apparently 75,000 people who once lived are now buried there. It was a cold and rainy day, which for me added to the overall ambiance of being amongst the dead. I, unlike others, do not find cemeteries depressing places, indeed I find them interesting, quiet and meditative. I began my search at the small touch screen kiosk near the office. I typed in my family members names and then received a print out, which indicated where they might be located. I took these pieces of paper into the office and the kindly lady provided me with photocopies of the relevant map so that I could negotiate the extensive cemetery grounds. It was not too difficult finding my Grandfather - CHARLES WINTER CLARKE who was buried with his wife CATHERINE and her sister Betsie. There were two headstones, the primary one containing Charles 's name and the words DEAD KINDLY LIGHT and further on down I could just barely make out the word Catherine. I had previously set my camera to 'sepia' and so all the photos I took were in this mode, which is appropriate because the graves are so old.
Charles Winter Clarke (b. 1873), was a farrier in the 4th Light Horse Regiment of the Australian Imperial Force from 1917 to 1919, serving in Gallipoli. He sailed from Australia to the war on the H.M.A.T.Nestor.  He continued with his veterinary work after repatriation at the Hospital for Horses and Dogs (animal hospital and veterinary college) in Brunswick Street, Melbourne. This site is now used by an architectural firm. Charles Winter Clarke was married to Catherine May Farquarhson (b. 1881), it was her father William Farquarhson  (b. 1842 Braemar, Scotland, d. 25 December, 1925) who came to Australia with his wife Margaret McComb and their five children in 1854.  William Farquharson constructed many of the bridges in rural Victoria. He is mentioned in this article which recognizes Victorian bridge builders. Margaret McCombe was the licensee of the Oxford Hotel at 222 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne between 1899 and 1901, later she became publican at the Globe Hotel, Port Melbourne. 

I needed assistance to find the grave of my two young Aunties who drowned at Elwood Beach in December 1935 (The newspaper item in the Argus, 2nd December 1935 is here) so I solicited the help of Anthony and Michael, two grave diggers nearby who had just prepared the ground for a burial that was scheduled for 12 Noon. Finally, after much looking we found secreted behind the large rose bush on top of the grave the site of the last resting place of Margaret and Agnes Clarke, who are buried with Nellie May McCarthy and Louisa Sibley, who I know nothing about. They were not sisters of Margaret and Agnes, but must be relatives.
Michael kindly held back part of the rose bush so that I could take a photograph of the writing on the headstone, but I vowed to return and prune that bush, which may have been planted because of the innocence of the children who are placed there.
You can just see CLARKE - Margaret Isabel and Agnes Joyce...My lovely son said that he would take me to the cemetery and we could prune the rose bush. I feel strongly that this should be done.It's a strange experience to stand by the graves of people who you are descended from, people you have never known and yet feel usually connected to.
I sat for a while underneath a tree and ate the cut lunch I'd prepared and then came home. I felt a quiet happiness, but that may have had something to do with the weather because I feel so much better when it isn't hot.

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