Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The Church and Graveyard


St Mary's Church with the breaching wall.

St Mary’s Church was constructed in 1810 and the last service was held here in May 1857 after which it was converted, in June, into a store room for grain. This proved to be a bad arrangement. Its close proximity to the outer lines made it an extremely dangerous position and it was not possible to adequately defend it.  It was abandoned early on as a post a and the grain was moved out through a breach in the east wall of the chancel. The breach and the corresponding plaque are still visible.

The first burials in the churchyard took place in May 1857 – up to this point in time there had been no graveyard in the compound. Siege burials were hasty and took place at night, with darkness providing some cover from the firing. The bodies were placed into mass graves, piled either on top of one another or side by side, and covered over with a thin layer of dirt as quickly and as quietly as possible. It was a thoroughly dreadful place.
“The smell there became so horrible, owing to the shallowness of the graves and the want of work people to make proper arrangements that the medical men pronounced it positively dangerous for the living to go there.”A Ladys Diary of the Siege of Lucknow – Harris

Breaching wall and plaque
Burials continued here long after 1857 - but with a curious twist. Only members of the original garrison and their families were permitted to be buried here, which accounts for the many family graves and the relatively recent dates

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