I was recently contacted by John Pickering, graveyard manager of St Mary’s Cathedral in New Plymouth (Taranaki, New Zealand). He is spearheading a project to repair all the old gravestones in the churchyard, and is trying to contact descendants of those buried, to help fund the repairs. Council funds are being applied for where there are no known descendants.
My great great great grandparents George Tunnecliff(e) and his wife Elizabeth Barber are buried in Grave 56 in the churchyard, and their gravestone is one of a number that require some TLC.
The inscription on the headstone reads:
In loving memory of George Tunnecliff died 13 February 1912 aged 80 years also Elizabeth Tunnecliff died 24 February 1916 aged 86 . At rest.
John has written to a couple of descendants so far and outlined the work that is needed to repair the grave, and the costs involved. The concrete top is broken and the north side wall has fallen away, and the headstone itself requires a professional clean and application of lichen inhibitor. Because the churchyard has been designated a Category 1 historical site, only registered memorial masons can carry out the repairs.
The Dean of the Cathedral comments:
“We believe that the churchyard should be a place of pride for the city and a fitting memorial to those buried there. Our plan is to restore every headstone, whilst being true to its age and style. There is much research that a well-kept and loved churchyard is far less subject to vandalism. In recent years we have seen no vandalism whatsoever, and we aim for that to continue. ”
All told, the concrete repair work and the headstone cleaning for George & Elizabeth’s grave will amount to around $600. Descendants are being asked to contribute towards the cost, and obviously the more of us that can chip in, the better!
So, are you connected to the family? Would you like to help?
There are several ways to donate a few dollars, but to make it easier, I’ve set up a GiveALittle fundraising page and donations go straight to the The Taranaki Cathedral Church of St Mary for the restoration of Grave 56.
Over the next few weeks, I hope to share more about George and Elizabeth, their lives in England and New Zealand, as well as their children and grandchildren.
Further reading: Isobel Ewing, New Plymouth Graves Need Work, Taranaki Daily News online, 20 May 2013.
Tombstone Tuesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.