Tag Archives: Toodyay

Toodyay Cemeteries Come to an End

To live in hearts we leave behind
Is not to die.
THOMAS CAMPBELL, Hallowed Ground

By Rebecca Doughty, Graduate Diploma of Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Management student

My final blog is written in memory of the courageous and adventurous explorers who founded the town of Toodyay and specifically the early settlers who have made it the town we see today. The burials of these prominent and key figures in the Toodyay cemeteries are testament to the social and economic status they enjoyed in life.

The phrase above suggests an easy life and a rich one, but the lives of these important men and women did not come easy and the only wealth they had to show was that which they made themselves.

Nardie Cemetery houses the descendants of the Chitty and Ferguson families, both of whom were prominent members of society during the settlement of Toodyay. Generations of family members are buried either here or in the Toodyay Cemetery and descendants still reside in the town today, committed to its upkeep and contributing to the community as their namesakes did long ago.

Katrine Cemetery contains a large component of the Sinclair family, with large family plots and generations of burials. The Sinclairs who reside in Toodyay today have carried on family occupations such as farming and teaching and work in cultural heritage for the Shire of Toodyay.

Culham Cemetery boasts the burials of early founders and settlers of the Phillip and Syred families. Both families contributed considerably to the early settlement of the township and outlying regions, such as Bejoording and Culham, setting up a church, schools and a smithy. Descendants of the families remain in the region, contributing to the community, as did  previous generations of their families.

Toodyay Cemetery protects and reveres the families of Butterly, Harper and Drummond, all early founders and settlers of the region. Again, descendants of these families remain in the region and continue to support the community. Drummond was one of the original explorers and Harper the Reverend of the Avon Valley. Each of them have streets and monuments in their honour.

So ends my affair with the Cemeteries of Toodyay. Whilst it has been interesting, enjoyable and at times sad, on completion of my report for the Cultural Heritage Officer to add to the historical record of the region, it will also bring  a sense of righteousness to allow these souls to rest in peace.

Nardie Cemetery, Dumbarton

Thank you for reading and I hope you have enjoyed the stroll through the cemeteries of Toodyay, WA.

Great things have been achieved by those that lie here.

When do the dead die? When they are forgotten –
Laura Esquivel, The Law of Love.

By Rebecca Doughty, Graduate Diploma Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Management student

Documenting the burial sites found in St Philip’s Anglican Cemetery, Culham, Toodyay, was like meeting with old friends. A quaint little cemetery, exclusive to original pioneers and their descendants, my past research came over me like a wave. The little gothic church stood by as I recorded, photographed and documented the sites in reverence.

Seventy four burials were identified between 1830-1930, many of which shared a similarity in materials and style.

Syred Family, St Philip’s Cemetery, Culham

As I carefully picked my way through I recognised the names and realised the marital connections of the people who had founded the Toodyay region, donated the land for the church and cemetery at Culham and first settled further along the Avon River, at Bejoording and Bolgart.

Drummond Family, St Philip’s Cemetery, Culham

My arrival at Toodyay Cemetery, however, was met with a greater sense of  foreboding. This was the only cemetery which stood on the Main Street through town, where I was most obvious to curious eyes and it was also the largest cemetery of the four. The enormous space is divided into five sections: three were Roman Catholic which contained 71 sites and two were Anglican, which contained 157 sites. This cemetery took me two days to properly record. There were 228 burial sites in total and, again, an enormous number of familiar names from the district, such as Lee-Steere, Reverend Harper, Butterly and Chitty. Their descendants are still living here today.

Lee Steere Family, Toodyay Cemetery, Toodyay

As I had anticipated, my recording brought the attention of local residents and before long I was hosting an impromptu information session for a small group of elderly people, explaining my purpose, intentions and methods. Once they realised I was not there to desecrate the final resting places of their great grandmothers, aunts, relatives and friends, I was left to complete my work.

I returned home with my precious photographs, careful measurements and descriptions and set about analysing the results.

Chitty Family, Toodyay Cemetery, Toodyay

As I set up tables and documented total burials I felt privileged to be trusted by the Toodyay Cultural Heritage Officer, with such private and precious information; I held the history of the township in my hands and was determined to do it justice in my report.

Butterly Family, Toodyay Cemetery, Toodyay

And so the analysis begins and a careful study of those prominent names of the district. Just how were these people remembered in death and did the burial practices employed reflect the social and economic position they had enjoyed in life? We shall see.