Sunday 17 May 2009

New cemetery excursion

At the recent Brontë weekend on 24-26 April, last year’s cemetery excursion was repeated on the afternoon of Friday 24 April. We set off in glorious weather to search once more for the gravestones of Martha Taylor and Julia Wheelwright, friends of the Brontës during their time in Brussels, who were originally buried in the Protestant cemetery which was closed down at the end of the 19th century.

We first went to the place of the former Protestant cemetery, quite often visited by Charlotte in her lonely year in Brussels, 1843. The site of the Protestant part of the cemetery is only partly occupied by a building, so one does not need that much imagination to go back in time to when the cemetery still existed, especially with the assistance of Theodor Wolfe's 1885 eyewitness account.

On the group's left side is the site of the Protestant part of the former cemetery.

Another view of the site of the Protestant cemetery

We then went to Evere cemetery to search for the gravestones of the two girls. It was amazing to see how quickly these stones we had cleared last October had become overgrown again, particularly with moss. We searched again in Lane 15, and this time also in Lane 14, but without success. It seems that in these lanes only concession-holders lie buried. What happened to those without a concession, like Martha and Julia, remains a mystery.

This time we also had a walk in another part of the very large and indeed quite beautiful cemetery, which also gave us the opportunity to see the Waterloo Monument. British soldiers who fell at Waterloo were first buried at our former cemetery. Lane 15 has one Waterloo grave, quite well kept, and still regularly honoured it seems.

The group consulting the map of Evere cemetery

Lane 15 of Evere cemetery

Eric Ruijssenaars


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