Family Vaults South, Cowgate Cemetery Nature Reserve, Dover, England, UK

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John Latter on October 3, 2009

Approaching the southern end of the line of family vaults set against the western boundary wall of Cowgate Cemetery, Dover, UK.

It's possible to walk along the whole length of the top of the family vaults, the only structure on this level being a single white memorial whose base is visible at top centre in the above photo (mentioned because it'll appear in other shots).

Just below and slightly to the right of this square memorial is the embedded white headstone of the first family vault. Near the top of the headstone is a cross-shaped opening, a feature of all the vaults. It was through one of these openings that the 'empty coffin' photo was taken in 2007.

The headstone of Lieutenant Colonel John Campbell of the 97th Regiment, who died in May, 1851, is on the right of the photo.

This Victorian cemetery is now a nature reserve (see 'Standard Info') and is only 'lightly maintained' - which is exactly how I like it :)

The photo was taken walking up the southern traverse pathway towards the upper pathway (see below).

Five images of the Victorian Cowgate Cemetery were uploaded in 2007. This latest batch were all taken on Friday, 18th of September, Monday, 21st of September, or Sunday, 27th of September, 2009 (see 'Extra Information' under Photo Details in the right-hand column for camera details).

Click on the Cowgate tag to see more photos (and/or watch the YouTube video linked to below).

Standard Info

The Victorian Cowgate Cemetery is an approximate rectangle whose maximum dimensions are 150 x 70 yards. It slopes uphill from east to west with the western boundary wall (the longest) set into the lower slopes of the Western Heights.

There are three long pathways running north to south: western, middle, and eastern. To reflect the fact the cemetery is on a slope, these will be correspondingly referred to as the upper, the middle, and lower.

From east to west there are the five shorter pathways: northern boundary, northern traverse, central traverse, southern traverse, and an irregular southern boundary pathway. For simplicity (although it might not seem so!), most positional references references will be given in terms of the three traversing pathways.

In other words, the burial areas of the cemetery are set out in a 4 v 2 grid pattern with a row of family vaults running along the upper boundary wall.

Abridged extracts from the plaque just inside the main (north) entrance:

Dover's Cowgate Cemetery is named after the medieval gate which allowed townspeople to graze their animals on the lower slopes of the Western Heights.

The land, over two acres in extent, was donated by William Mowll and consecrated in 1835 by the Archbishop of Canterbury (William Howley) as an extension to the Parish churchyard (St Mary`s).

The layout of the cemetery is attributed to Stephen Geary, the architect who designed London's Highgate Cemetery.

In 1990 the Wildlife Conservation Community Program (WCCP) discovered a small population of the Garden Dormouse (Eliomys quercinus) living in the cemetery. The Garden Dormouse is not 'officially' recorded as living in Britain.

Click to see a YouTube Video of Dover`s Victorian Cowgate Cemetery (part of which shows the exterior of the 'empty coffin' vault).

For more information see The Dover Society - Cowgate Cemetery Project and Cowgate Cemetery Volunteers.

John Latter / Jorolat

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on September 23, 2009
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D
    • Taken on 2009/09/21 11:45:53
    • Exposure: 0.017s (1/60)
    • Focal Length: 35.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/6.300
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash