St James’ Garden, which is really a former cemetery, sits at the base of the Anglican Cathedral. We’ve passed it a number of times and I thought it’d be interesting to check it out on a nice day. But it’s a bit out of the way for us and certainly not on any of our regular routes, so the nice summer days came and went and we still hadn’t visited it. Today, we had few plans and weren’t too far from it, so we finally went to have a look.

It was appropriately quiet and with the overcast skies, eerily gloomy. With the exception of a couple of cyclists cutting through and a group of guys dressed in colourful hoodies, I think we were likely the only ones there on this cloudy Thursday afternoon. The cemetery is in quite a state of disrepair, with the inscriptions of many headstones faded or pieces of them broken off. There were even a few that have sunken into the ground, while others had been vandalized. One said “Ringo for President” on the back. But it was interesting walking around and reading the different headstones, most dating back to the 1800s. The cemetery had previously been a quarry, which I would never have guessed, and surprisingly it’s not at all affiliated with the church.

Lucas and I had to remind Raspberry to be respectful of the headstones and preferably to not walk on the ones laid as a path (this proved to be impossible at some points) and not to sit on the broken ones. She couldn’t understand why even after we explained it and I don’t think it it made her enjoy the park any more than she did (which seemed to be hardly at all). She said she found it interesting after the fact, but while we were there she kept saying that Violet the cat wanted to go (obviously projecting her own anxieties onto it). I usually get creeped out by death and cemeteries, but in the way it’s hard to turn away from a train wreck, I found myself getting absorbed in reading the headstones and seeing how old people were when they passed away. Lucas, ever appreciative of and intrigued by the history of places, was too. In the vein of Liverpool’s maritime history, we found the headstones of two American captains and Lucas wondered how they came to be. There seemed to be headstones of people on both ends of the spectrum — infants and children as well as those who lived well into their eighties. While I’m familiar with the fact that Victorian children died typically due to illness, I was most surprised by the latter, since I thought lifespans weren’t quite that long back in the day. Lucas pointed out a series of headstones with multiple names, ages and dates listed in a very orderly fashion. They seem to have come from an orphanage and it’s hard to fathom that so many children died from just once place. We weren’t there for too long, as Raspberry wasn’t really into it. Also, I’m not sure how long more I could’ve lasted there either without getting too spooked. After having been there now, I laugh at my previous thought from months ago that we could’ve spent an afternoon there. I’d give it an hour tops. I wouldn’t mind visiting the park again though and see it in some bright sunlight. It might offer some new perspective on the park. And maybe if Raspberry comes along, she’ll be ever so slightly more interested in it (or not).

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