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THE

GARDENER'S MAGAZINE,

APRIL, 1843.

.

ORIGINAL COMMUNICATIONS. Art. I. The Principles of Landscape-Gardening and of Landscape

Architecture applied to the Laying out of Public Cemeteries and the Improvement of Churchyards; including Observations on the Working and General Management of Cemeteries and BurialGrounds. By the CONDUCTOR.

(Continued from p. 105.)

As we anticipated, we have received a variety of com, unications relative to the article on the uses of cemeteries in our last Number. In one circumstance almost all the writers agree, viz. in expressing their surprise at the great durability of human bones : of this durability, however, there can be no doubt. One correspondent, a medical man, has “ seen bones in churchyards in a state of incipient decay,” and he therefore concludes that there must be “ an ascertainable period when the decay is complete, and the bones, as well as the flesh, are returned to dust.” On this subject we would observe that, in crowded churchyards which have been in use perhaps for centuries, the bones have in all probability been frequently dug up and reinterred, and that the changes in regard to soil and moisture, in which they were placed each time of removing, must no doubt have had a considerable influence in accelerating their decomposition. Add also, that the soil of burying-grounds which have been long in use has been rendered so porous, as to be as permeable to water, and consequently to air, as sand or gravel

. In short, it has become like the surface soil of a garden or a field which has been long cultivated and well manured ; and every gardener knows that such soil is so porous, and so little liable to cohere even by pressure, that it may be used to fill in drains. We agree, therefore, with our correspondent, that bones have every chance of decaying sooner in a burying-ground that has been long used than in fresh soil; though we do not consider this a sufficient argument for continuing to bury in such grounds after they have been once filled.

On the contrary, as the porosity of the soil must necessarily be as favourable for the escape into the atmosphere of the gases of decomposition, as it is for the sinking into it of rain water, it shows the 3d Ser. - 1843. IV.

L

much greater danger to the health of the living from burials in old burying-grounds than interments in new ones.

II. The LAYING OUT, BUILDING, AND PLANTING OF CEMETERIE

KIES.

Having shown the uses of cemeteries, we shall next consider the mode in which the ground should be laid out or arranged, with reference to these uses.

The situation of cemeteries, as they are at present used, that is, interring several bodies in one grave, and placing coffins in vaults, ought always to be at a distance from human dwellings ; but if only one coffin were to be placed in each grave, and that grave never again opened, but the cemetery when filled used as a public garden, its situation might be regulated solely by convenience ; and, in general, the nearer the town, the more desirable it would be, both as a burial-ground and a promenade. Cemeteries, as at present used, ought to be in an elevated and airy situation, open to the north, but with a south aspect, that the surface may be dried by the sun; rather than with a north aspect, where the surface would be moist during the winter months. If the surface be even, it will be more convenient for interments than if it were irregular, whether by broken ground, rocks, or undulations. It should be as near the great mass of the population for which it is intended, as a due regard to their health will permit, in order to lessen the expense of carriage, and shorten the time of the performance of funerals and of visits by the living to the tombs of their friends; it ought to be conspicuous at a distance, because, from its buildings and tombs, it will generally be an ornament to the surrounding country, and an impressive meinento of our mortality; and the outer boundary ought to be regular and simple, in order that it may be short, and consequently less expensive than if it were circuitous.

The soil, for reasons which we have already noticed, ought to be dry to the depth of 20 or 30 feet, or capable of being rendered so by underground drains. It ought not to be generally rocky, at least where deep graves are to be dug. As in decomposition a considerable quantity of moisture (sanies) is exuded, the greatest care ought to be taken not to form a cemetery over a stratum of soil which contains the water used in the neighbourhood for drinking. Not to mention numerous instances in London, as noticed in the Report on the Health of Towns, there is a churchyard near Kirkaldy in Fifeshire with a per. petual spring immediately without the boundary wall, the water of which, passing through a stratum under the graves, is said to be contaminated; and the burial-ground of St. Peter's Church, Brighton, cannot be used as such, on account of the proximity of the chalky stratum which contains the water that supplies the wells of the lower part of the town.

In situations where, from the flatness of the country or the nature of the soil, there is not an opportunity of draining to a great depth, care ought always to be taken to carry off as much as possible of the surface water by shallow underground drains placed under the roads, and under the gravel walks and green paths which separate the lines of graves. No drains can be made under those parts of the surface in which graves are to be dug, for obvious reasons. Many details of this kind, which need not be entered into, will readily occur to the practical man.

The prejudices of the living, in every country, are in favour of a gravelly, sandy, or chalky soil ; and in such soils draining is not required. In strong clayey soil, like that of most of the London cemeteries, decomposition does not take place for a very long period, the fleshy part of the bodies being changed into adipocere.

The extent of a cemetery must, of course, depend on the population for which it is intended ; the probable increase or decrease of that population; and whether one, or more than one, interment is to be made in the same grave. The data on which to form the necessary calculations are, that the average outside dimensions of a grave are 7ft. by 3 ft. 6 in. ; that the average dimensions of a grave, where a number of them are supposed to have gravestones, are 8 ft. by 4 ft.; and that the average deaths in a healthy population in the country are 2 per cent, and in crowded towns and cities 3 per cent, per annum. Thus, 20 graves will be required per annum for a rural population of 1000, and 200 per annum for a population of 10,000. An acre will give 1361 graves, which will afford a supply for nearly seven years ; and three acres will serve for twenty-one years. At this latter period the town will probably have increased on the side next the cemetery, when the additional ground should be taken at a greater distance, and the old ground, when fully occupied, may be sprinkled over with trees, to be eventually used as a place of recreation for the living. The calculation, however, will be considerably different, if we suppose that all the graves are to be without head-stones, and consequently no longer than is necessary to admit the coffins. For this purpose, the average width of the grave at one end may be 2 ft., and at the other 20 in., and the length 6 ft. Taking the greater width, this will give 12 square feet to each grave, which will give 3630 graves to an acre, These graves in the London cemeteries are dug 15 ft. in depth, and ten coffins of poor persons are deposited in them. The common charge is 25s. for each coffin, or at the rate of the enormous sum of 45,375l. per acre. In some cemeteries as many as fifteen coffins are deposited in one grave, the depth in that case being 20 or 25 feet. We could name a cemetery in which forty-five coffins, we are assured, have been deposited in one grave.

The situation, soil, and extent being fixed on, the next consideration is the boundary fence, which ought to be such as to insure security from theft, and favour solemnity by excluding the bustle of every-day life, while a view of distant scenery is admitted to produce a certain degree of cheerfulness, and dissipate absolute gloom. In an open part of the country, where there are few buildings or public roads, an iron railing may be employed as a ring-fence; but, in a populous neighbourhood, a wall 10 or i2 feet high, strengthened by buttresses carried up above the coping, so as to give the wall an architectural character, may be preferable. The buttresses may be of two kinds : ordinary ones, merely for strengthening the wall, or forming piers to panels of open iron railing ; and, in the case of cemeteries not laid out in beds or panels, higher and more massive piers rising conspicuously above the others, at regular distances, to receive stones having cut in them the numbers and letters used as indexes to lines for ascertaining the situations of graves, in the manner which will be hereafter described. The numbers and letters alluded to are at present in most cemeteries painted on the brickwork, which has a mean temporary appearance; or they are put on stones or labels of cast iron inserted in the soil, and rising only an inch or two above it, which are liable to be disturbed by the moving of ground. Though we entirely disapprove of this mode of laying out a cemetery, yet, as it is generally practised, we have thought it right to keep it in view. Where economy is an object, a hedge and sunk wall may be used as a boundary, and the best plant for the hedge is the common holly. There ought to be one main entrance; and, if the situation admits of it, a second entrance, for the admission of workmen, carts, &c., necessary for carrying on the executive part of the cemetery.

In laying out the interior, the system of roads and walks, the drainage, the situation of the chapel or chapels, and the arrangement of the graves, and of the marks which in large cemeteries, as at present laid out, are necessary at the angles of the squares, require to be taken simultaneously, and also separately, into consideration. There ought to be at least one main road, so as to allow of a hearse having ready access to every part of the grounds; and from this road there ought to be gravel walks into the interior of the compartients formed by the roads, walks, and the boundary wall; and, from these gravel paths, ramifications of narrow grass paths, so as to admit of examining tbe graves in every part of the grounds, without walking over any of them, and thus insure respect for the dead. We have already observed that all the drains that require to be made must be under these roads, walks, and paths, so as not to interfere with the graves; and the ranges of situations for graves must be determined before the roads, walks, and green alleys are fixed on, otherwise there might be a waste of ground. To be convinced of the bad effects of the neglect of surface drainage in a cemetery, it is only necessary to walk on the grass of that at Kensal Green during winter or spring.

The first point to be attended to, according to the present system, unless the cemetery should be a small one of only an acre or two, is to devise a system for throwing the interior into imaginary squares or paral. lelograms, which shall be indicated by numbers and letters on the boundary fence, and by marks inserted in the ground at their points of intersection. In cemeteries of moderate dimensions, more particularly if the form be rectangular, the marks at the intersections of the squares may be dispensed with; these intersections being readily ascertained when it is desired to find out the precise situation of any grave, by stretching lines across the cemetery from the letters and figures on the boundary fence. For example, suppose fig. 19. to represent a cemetery of five acres, with the А B

C

D

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letters A, B, C, &c., marked at regular distances on the end walls, and figures 1, 2, 3, &c., at the same distances on the side walls ; then, by stretching one line from B to B, and another from 2 to 2, &c., the intersections of the strings will give the points B2, C2, &c.: but supposing the surface of the cemetery to be very hilly, or that it is thickly studded with tombs or trees, then, as the

lines could not be readily stretched so as to give the points B2, C2, &c., with perfect accuracy, a stone or mark of cast iron is inserted when the cemetery is first laid out, in each of the intersecting points, with the letter and figure on it, as shown in the diagram fig. 19. at B2, C2, D3, &c. At every other point of intersection throughout the cemetery, there is a sunk stone or iron inserted, with the letter which stands at the ends of the long lines, and the figure which stands at the ends of the cross lines, as shown on a large scale in fig. 20. Thus in the diagram fig. 19., we should have the squares Al, B1, C1, D1, &c.; and A2, B2, C2, &c. The use of these squares

A.S.B.S. is to enable the sexton to ascertain and point out, at any future time during the existence of the cemetery, the precise spot where any interment has taken A2. B.2. place. For example, required to see the grave of T. W. On turning to the index of the register book of names, T. W. is found to have been interred in the square B4. Now, on turning to the map book of Fig 20. Showing the manner

of marking the Stoncs at the the cemetery, in which every imaginary square into Angles of the Squares. which the cemetery is parcelled out is laid down on a large scale, the position and dimensions of the grave will be found delineated according to the scale ; and then, by taking the dimensions from two of the sides of the square and applying them to the ground, the exact position of the grave is found, even though the grave mound should be obliterated. Now it must be evident that it would be exceedingly inconvenient to have the stone marks fall into positions where buildings were to be erected, or roads or walks to be laid out ; and hence the propriety, as we have said above, of determining the position of the intersections of the squares, before any other part of the laying out is proceeded with. This is the more necessary in cases where the intersecting points are to be marked by trees of particular kinds, or by an obelisk, or other monumental stone. By using an obelisk or other pillar with four sides, pointing diagonally to the four squares, as at B2 and C 2 in the diagram fig. 19., these stones would not only serve to indicate the intersections of the squares, but to record the names of those buried in each square, if the parties interested thought fit to incur the expense. It is not necessary that all the squares or parallelograms should be of the same size ; on the contrary, their dimensions may be varied, so as to suit the ground, the boundary, and all the different circumstances connected with the general arrangement. In some cases the intersections of the squares might be indicated by trees, as shown at B 4, D 3, &c.

It must be confessed, however, that this system of laying out a cemetery into imaginary squares is a very unsatisfactory one, for the following reasons : -- 1. It neither admits of a permanent system of surface drainage, nor of grass paths among the graves. 2. From there being no obvious principle of order or arrangement in conformity with which the graves are placed, the general aspect of the interior of the cemetery is confused and unsatisfactory; the graves and tombstones seeming to be put down at random as in common churchyards.

3. A very slight error in mapping the graves may render it difficuli, if not impossible, to identify a particular grave, either to point it out to the relations of the deceased; or, when the square is nearly full, for the purpose of avoiding an old grave in digging a new one. Let any one who doubts this examine the map books in the principal London cemeteries, and ask to see one of the graves indicated in the plan. 4. Unless a head-stone is put to the grave, or some other permanent mark, it is impossible for any person but the sexton to identify it ; which circumstance can by no means be rendered satisfactory to the relations of the deceased. 5. No provision is made for paths among these graves, so that, when the squares are nearly full, there will be no mode of getting to any one grave, but by walking over a number of others ; which is not only a species of desecration, but, when there are several of the graves having head-stones, must be exceedingly inconvenient.

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