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What do the cemetery symbols and emblems mean?

Have you ever wondered about the symbols and emblems found on headstones and monuments at the cemetery?Cemetery Symbols

If you grew up in a religious family, there were no doubt some symbols that appeared frequently.

For me, it was the Celtic Cross. This is an interesting combination, including Celtic, Latin and Ancient Greek.

At the cemetery, you will find these and many more. The Maryborough Cemetery, or at least the monumental part of it, is quite old by Queensland standards. It was established in 1873, though there had been earlier cemeteries.

The first was at the site of the Old Maryborough Township near the intersection of Alice and Aldridge streets, and, later, at the site of the Elizabeth Park Rose Gardens. There were also various burials scattered throughout the district.

If you wander through the monumental cemetery on Walker St, you will be in awe of the size, variety and beauty of the various headstones and monuments erected to honour the deceased. It should be noted that the cemetery is divided into portions assigned to various faiths.

If you enter from Walker St, through the main gate, you will note the abundance of Celtic Crosses on the left of the avenue.

This is one of the Catholic portions of the cemetery. Cemetery symbols

To your right is an Anglican section. Crosses predominate throughout the cemetery, as one would expect, historically.  There are two quaintly named “Non-Christian” portions which are quite small.

Amongst the larger and more spectacular monuments, several motifs stand out apart from the crosses.

Angels, of course, are common and of varying styles. Look out for the Archangels Michael, with a sword and Gabriel, with a horn or trumpet. Angels may fly, symbolizing the departure of the soul, or crying in grief. Cherubs are often used to show the deceased was a child.

There are many monuments that feature an obelisk or stele. This is a square spire tapering towards the top, with a distinctive pyramid shape at the point. They are quite ancient symbols of power and achievement.

Occasionally, the monument will be topped by a column that appears broken off. This is deliberate. The broken column, again, symbolizes a life cut short and is usually a sign that the deceased died quite young.

Cemetery Symbols

As you continue to ramble amongst the graves, note the number of monuments topped by urns. Maryborough Cemetery has quite a few of them.

Some argue the urn symbolizes immortality, but it is probable that the urn motif is a remembrance of an earlier time when cremation was more common than burial.

The word urn comes from the Latin “uro” which means “to burn”. The purpose of the urn was to hold the ashes, which echo the Biblical reference in Genesis, to the dust we humans intrinsically are.

Many of the urns are draped with a cloth. This is the shroud, another ancient motif associated with death. From the earliest times and across many faiths, the body was wrapped in a cloth before interment.

The cemetery in Maryborough also contains at least one crypt and several raised tombs.

What would you like on your tombstone?

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Mortuary chapel, the nucleus of M’boro Cemetery

Have you ever been to the Maryborough Cemetery; the Monumental Cemetery, south of Walker St?

Of course, you have! However, if you have visitors and you’re looking for something interesting on a balmy afternoon, there’s no better place to visit.

Apart from the forest of beautiful and interesting monuments and headstones, when you arrive, your eyes will be drawn to the Mortuary Chapel.

This is the handsome structure in the centre of the “old” cemetery.

Once again, a building in our midst boasts interesting and talented antecedents.

The Queensland Heritage Register describes the “chapel” building type as rare and the structure itself, with a tower and four entrances over a central axis as unique in Queensland.

Bravo! There’s a reason this piece of our heritage is so ­special.

Work of architect Willoughby Powell

As with the various buildings, mentioned in the Maryborough Herald on May 7, attributable to Francis Drummond Greville Stanley, the Mortuary Chapel is the work of ­another distinguished Queensland Colonial architect.

This time it is Willoughby Powell who arrived in Queensland in 1872, and by 1875, had won a competition for the ­design of the Toowoomba Grammar School.

In 1882, he moved to Maryborough and set up his own practice here.

Apart from his design for Maryborough’s Mortuary Chapel, he was the “genius” who gave us ­Baddow House; one of the classic heritage private homes of Queensland.

Alas, Powell moved back to Brisbane in 1885, but went on to design important buildings across the length of Queensland.

Among his other achievements are Gabbinbar Homestead, Toowoomba Town Hall, Warwick Town Hall, and the Atkinson & Powell Building in Townsville.

For more details, visit the Queensland Heritage Register at https://bit.ly/2TgOgf9.


The Mortuary Chapel story was first published in the Maryborough Herald on 18 May 2020
mortuary chapel - burial crypt

The Maryborough Cemetery in Queensland has many historical grave sites including the Aldridge family crypt.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like Understanding Cemetery Symbols by Peter Woodland.

 

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Who was Francis Stanley?

Francis Drummond Greville Stanley. That’s a name to conjure. “Who was he?”, many of you may ask and yet you will all know his work.

Colonial architect Francis Stanley

Francis Drummond Greville Stanley

Francis Stanley was born in Edinburgh in 1839 and came to Queensland in 1860 or thereabouts.

He was an Edinburgh-trained architect and began work with the Lands Department. He rose to be the chief colonial architect in 1871.

The recently refurbished and opened Maryborough Story Bank, the birthplace of Mary Poppins’ author, Pamela Travers, began life as the Australian Joint Stock Bank (AJS Bank) and was designed by Stanley.

St Mary's Catholic Church, Maryborough

He also designed the Maryborough Court House, St Paul’s Anglican Church, in Adelaide St and had a hand in completing the design and extension of St Mary’s Catholic Church (pictured).

He was a significant contributor to the heritage Maryborough now boasts. His role in the city’s local heritage is echoed throughout Queensland.

The AJS Bank commissioned him to design branch buildings in Gympie, Mackay, Ravenswood and Townsville. He also designed St Mary’s Convent, now the museum, in Cooktown, in Far North Queensland, and the Brisbane GPO and Fort Lytton, in Moreton Bay, as well.

Architect of lighthouses

Stanley’s skill and taste are not just to be found in his public buildings, though.

He designed the Capricorn Light on Curtis Island, north of Gladstone and others along the coast.

The original light was a prefab structure of wood and iron, built in Brisbane, and was only the fifth lighthouse built in Queensland.

As we celebrate the beauty of our heritage, it is worthwhile to remember the humble public servant who designed them for us.

 

First published in the Maryborough Herald, 7 May 2020. 

Maryborough Story Bank

Maryborough Story Bank, the birthplace of Mary Poppins author, P. L. Travers, was designed by Francis Stanley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maryborough Courthouse

Maryborough Courthouse, Queensland, designed by Francis Stanley.

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Mary Ann’s priceless nameplate comes home

A priceless piece of Queensland’s railway history has reappeared after 127 years.

Ipswich railway enthusiast Merv Volker, who visited the Maryborough last week, has donated the nameplate from the original Mary Ann locomotive to the Whistlestop museum where its replica locomotive is housed.

Mary Ann was the first steam locomotive built in Queensland by John Walker & Co. Ltd. in 1873 for William Pettigrew and William Sim.

The timber pioneers used the loco to haul logs in the Tin Can Bay area but she vanished in 1893 after a Mary River flood and fire at the Dundathu sawmill where she was stored.

In 1999, Maryborough engineer Peter Olds launched a full-size replica that he and his team at Olds Engineering built using just three historic photographs to guide its creation.

The Mary Ann replica is now an iconic attraction in Maryborough, regularly chuffing her way through Queens Park pulling carriages filled with enthusiastic sightseers.

Where has Mary Ann’s nameplate been for 127 years?

Mr Volker, a former Granville resident and now volunteers at the Ipswich railway museum, said he bought the solid brass curved plate bearing the name ‘Mary Ann’ from a long-time friend in Gympie.

“He had it for some years before I bought it from him 23 years ago,” Mr Volker said.

“I don’t know how he came to have it and I don’t want to say how much I paid, but it wasn’t a lot.

“Several times I’ve been going to bring it up to Maryborough but I’ve had doubts about its authenticity.

“I couldn’t give the museum something that was a reproduction. Peter can make his own reproductions – I don’t need to give them one.”

Is it the original nameplate?

Mr Olds said he was thrilled to receive the “priceless” railway artifact from Mr Volker.

“It has to be the genuine plate,” he said. “You just can’t put a price on this type of history.”

Telltale signs include it having a reverse curve and no grooves on the back.

“We also got a piece of plate off an old boiler that’s three-foot six diameter and it fits exactly.

“And, the shape of lettering on the plate is identical to the lettering shown in the old photographs.”

Mr Olds said the nameplate would have been attached to Mary Ann’s original boiler with two screws.

“There’d be steam pressure on those screws and they wouldn’t come out too easily. Whoever took it off would have had to do so with great care.

“It’s amazing the plate is still in such good condition, apart from being slightly bent.”

What will happen to the historic nameplate?

Mr Olds said the Maryborough City Whistlestop committee was planning to fix the original nameplate to the Mary Ann replica.

“It’ll be on the rear end of the engine so passengers can see the plate from the front carriage, touch it and take photographs.”

Mary Ann

Railway enthusiast Merv Volker (left) donates the nameplate from the original Mary Ann to Peter Olds on behalf of the Whistlestop museum in Maryborough, Qld.

Why donate it now?

When asked what prompted him to donate the plate now, Mr Volker said that being 76 years of age, the time had come to downsize his collection of railway memorabilia.

“There comes a time when you have to clean up after yourself,” he laughed.

“I have a large collection and if I was hit by a bus tomorrow, (my sister) Marilyn (Jensen) would have to clean it up.

“It’s a hell of a job. It’ll take me all year to dispose of it. We’ve been going a couple of months already and there’s still so much other stuff.

“My collection includes a lot of Queensland Railway china. I’m not letting that go, but the rest can go.

“Marilyn knows that if something happens to me, she’s to give the china to the railway museum at Ipswich because there are pieces in there they haven’t got.

“Different people who are involved in collecting railway history have different prime subjects. Some people collect tickets only. Others collect things such as lamps and uniforms.”

Call for more relics and photos

Mr Olds said the Maryborough City Whistlestop committee was keen to accept more donations of other local railway relics and photos, including the second locomotive made by John Walker & Co. Ltd, Mary Ann’s sister ‘Dundathu’.

To contact the committee phone (07) 4121 0444 or email mborowhistlestop@bigpond.com

For more on Mary Ann’s history, visit https://maryboroughwhistlestop.org.au and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooloola_Tramway

 

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What’s the deal with so many pineapple motifs?

Have you ever wondered why pineapple motifs are a recurring theme? I have.

It seems like pineapple motifs are everywhere. They’re on shirts, pineapple art, jewellery and ornaments to name just a few.

Pineapples are even featured in one of the mosaics adorning Kent Street at Maryborough, Queensland.

The blurb suggests the city’s municipal benefactor, George Ambrose White, who donated money for the construction of the Maryborough Town Hall in the early 1900s, made his money out of pineapples, amongst other things including gold.

Pineapples in mosiacs

Maryborough storyteller Ian Brown tells Eriko Badri and daughter Sana from Bundaberg about the pineapple motifs in the city’s mosiac.

Why pineapples?

The pineapple is a member of the Bromeliad family. It is native to South America, most likely from southern Brazil and Paraguay.

It was introduced to Europe in the 15th Century first by Christopher Columbus, who encountered it in Guadeloupe.

It had, by then, spread throughout South and Central America.

In Europe, the pineapple proved hard to cultivate and therein is the answer to why the pineapple remains an emblem, a motif of fashion and prestige.

It became rare and hard to procure and so became a symbol of wealth and power.

A pineapple could sell for as much as $8000 in today’s money.

Those able to acquire a pineapple would use it as a centrepiece for swank affairs. In fact, it was possible to rent pineapples for an event.

The rich and famous adorned their homes and other building with carved pineapples.

Christopher Wren chose gold pineapples to top both the North Towers of St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

Purportedly, it was Barbara Palmer, mistress of King Charles II, who first cultivated the tropical fruit in Europe in a ‘hothouse’ in the late 1600s.

Indeed, King Charles also had official portraits painted in which pineapples appear prominently.

In Queensland, pineapples are grown in the Sunshine Coast, Wide Bay, Yeppoon, Coastal North Queensland and the Atherton Tableland regions. In the 2012-13 season, the Australian pineapple processing sector produced 39,000 t of fruit for canning and juicing, which was worth $12.5 million. — Queensland Government, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Pinapples in architecture

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If you enjoyed this story, you might also enjoy reading:

A Croquet-lover’s Guide to Exploring the Wide Bay

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