I live not very far away from Glyntaff Cemetary and Crematorium. When I was 11 and 12 years of age, I used to walk too and from school through the cemetery as it was the shortest route to take
This walk never ‘freaked’ me out. Indeed, I often used to take my time on my way home to wander around. I was fascinated by the variety of gravestones, and also with the stories of the people they commemorated.
These wanderings laid the foundations for my life-long love of cemeteries. Not just the social history contained within them, but the peace and stillness and the wide variety of nature that is there.
I also like the relative lack of the living in cemeteries. I’m not good in ‘people-y’ places; I get anxious, panicked, and can become startled and hypervigilant. These are some of the delights of living with CPTSD.
Cemeteries are one of the few places I know I can visit and walk around without any anxiety or panic. Well, other than that worry that perhaps I shouldn’t be there. I do tend to forget, when I know I need to go for a walk or when I’m trying to convince myself that I need to go for a walk, that cemeteries are good places for me to go!
Today, I managed to convince myself that it would be good to take a walk in my local one, which is quite sizeable for sure. You can see an aerial photograph of it here ––https://www.peoplescollection.wales/items/33736
This photo only shows part of the cemetery. It extends to the left.
Now, for a little history…
The cemetery in Glyntaff, Pontypridd, South Wales, UK was opened in 1924. It was the sixteenth to open in Great Britain, but for almost thirty years it was the only crematorium serving the whole of Wales.
Its crematorium is the oldest in Wales. Also, it has links with Dr William Price (1800-1893), who lived in Pontypridd and was actively involved in getting cremation legalised as a way of disposal of the dead.
Following the death of his son Iesu Grist in 1884, he followed his Druidic beliefs. He refused to bury the body; instead, he conducted his own cremation service on a mountain near his home in Llantrisant.
The police intervened, believing cremation to be illegal. Dr Price faced a court hearing. During this hearing, he argued that while the law did not say cremation was legal, it didn’t say it was illegal.
The judge agreed with Dr Price and freed him. This case set a precedent that led to the Cremation Act of 1902. It was under this act that Glyntaff Crematorium was opened.
My first stop – the columbarium.
I was so happy to see that the columbarium is, at last, reopened. I used to look in there on my walks home from school from time to time. It fascinated me. The last time I went to the cemetery, the columbarium was closed. I’m so glad that it has been repaired and reopened.
A columbarium is a room or building that has niches and shelves where urns can be stored. Sometimes photographs, flowers or other tributes to or personal belongings of the deceased are left with the urn or memorial plaque.
The one in Glyntaff is a building that is separate to the crematorium but is nearby. You can walk through the columbarium to and from the rose garden. It is a symmetrical building with two wings leading off the entrance hall. Each of these wings has three sections with lovely mosaic floors.
The west wing houses urns, drawers with ashes and tributes/belongings in, as well as memorial plaques. The east side has plaques on the walls.
I had a lovely look around there, and I want to go back sometime soon and look again. It’s going to take many visits to look at all the memorials and so on that are there.
My wander around the cemetery
It took me a good 40 minutes to stroll around the old part of the cemetery. Also, I didn’t walk every single roadway that I could. To the south of this section, there’s another part of the cemetery that is almost as big. I saved that for another day. Today it was quite sunny and humid, so I appreciated the shade cast by the trees in the old part of the cemetery.
The diversity of styles of gravestones is fascinating. I also find the symbolism used on headstones interesting, particularly those of the Victorian era. Little stories about the family are contained within those symbols.
Every time I visit, I notice different headstones. But there’s also the variety of nature too. It’s high summer here, so the grass is mostly sere. Also, I visited during the middle of the day; the wildlife was, quite sensibly, resting. Still, a few butterflies were fluttering around. I also had a chuckle at the jackdaws playing around some graves.
Dr Who and Glyntaff Cemetery
You can find out from drwholocations.net which parts of the cemetery were used in Dr Who and Torchwood.