Tag Archives: Eltham Cemetery

MysteryMonday: A Boot in Time

#MysteryMonday – Today we present a MysteryMonday of a somewhat different ilk; rather than solving the identity of a forgotten image, what we have is a tale of a mysterious event that occurred recently within our midst. It is a story of a woman’s boot, set in Eltham Cemetery, as told by Heather Eastman.

Victorian Ladies Side Lace-up Dainty Boots, c.1860. (Image Source: 1860-1960: one hundred years of fashion and accessories)

While out walking the dog one day past Eltham Cemetery on Mount Pleasant Road, I came across a very old looking boot. It was freshly dug up, most likely by a hungry and inquisitive fox looking for something to eat. It was sitting beside a sizable hole right next to the old green caretaker’s hut.

The boot appeared to be a genuine relic of the past. All leather, including the sole; laces long since gone. It had certainly seen better days with a few holes here and there and it was full of dirt.

I had seen boots like this before in pictures from the past. At a guess, it was a hundred years old, possibly more, and its owner, female with dainty feet.

I considered it may have come from the little Bootmaker’s cottage on Main Road. The cottage is still there, but of course has not witnessed boots made for years. I imagined when it did, they probably looked like this one.

I understand, around the time boots like this were worn, people were also quite superstitious. Often burying or concealing a single boot or shoe in a wall cavity or the like, to ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune.

I failed to take a photo of the boot that day, so I went back a few days later to do so. However, the boot was gone, and in its place, appeared a fresh pile of mulch. The boot provided a brief glimpse into our past, now a mystery as to how it got there and who once owned it. The above image is a good match for the boot.

Bootmaker’s cottage adjacent to Whitecloud Cottage, opposite the intersection of Dalton Street at Main Road, Eltham, 5 Jun 1990 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

Do you have any tales of mysterious happenings or events in the district you would like to share? If so, we’d love to hear from you

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Heritage Walk: Eltham Cemetery Artworks – March 3rd, 2pm

Saturday, 3rd March 2018 at 2.00pm

Photo: Jim Connor

Newsletter No 236 October 2017 contained a report on the unveiling of a significant new art project at the Eltham Cemetery. Titled “Our Eltham – Artistic Recollections” it features 31 ceramic panels containing artwork with a local history theme. The work is the joint creation of artist Nerina Lascelles and ceramicist Linda Detoma, supported with stonework by Leigh Wykes and steelwork by Neil Carter, all skilled local Nillumbik artisans.

Photo: Jim Connor

The main purpose of our excursion on Saturday 3rd March 2018 at 2.00pm will be to view the panels and will include readings from the interpretive booklet published by the Cemetery Trust. There will also be the opportunity to inspect other artworks within the cemetery.

Enter the cemetery from Metery Road (Melway Ref. 21 K9) and proceed to the adjacent car park.

This excursion is free and is open to the general public as well as Society members.

Please note that dogs are not permitted on Society excursions.

The phone number for contact on the day is 0409 021 063.

Heritage Excursion: Saturday 2nd Sept. – An Eltham South Ramble

Photo: Old Main Road Bridge over Diamond Creek, Eltham; a timber trestle bridge which was damaged in the 1924 floods and subsequently replaced in 1926 with a concrete structure. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society) – Turnaround point for this heritage excursion.

Saturday, 2nd September, 2017 at 2.00pm

This walk was originally scheduled for May but for several reasons including inclement weather it had to be postponed. We hope for better luck this time.

Early view of Main Road looking south from Brougham Street to Dalton Street; site of the Avenue of Honour in memory of the 1914-1918 War.

In the early days of our Society our excursions were usually bus trips to places of historic interest away from Eltham. For nearly 20 years our excursions have been far more local, mainly comprising walks around many parts of the Eltham district. The first such walk was a leisurely stroll through the Eltham South area.

Although that walk has been repeated several times with some variations it is considered appropriate in this our 50th year to again take a ramble visiting historic sites in Eltham South. On the way we will pass artist Percy Leason’s house “Landscape” where we will read from Margot Tasca’s recent book on Leason’s life about the construction of the house and studio. Other sites will include White Cloud Cottage, the old buildings of Eltham Primary School and teacher David Clark’s cottage, “Shoestring”. We will walk through the historic Eltham Cemetery and Wingrove Park, a site of Aboriginal significance.

This walk on Saturday 2nd September 2017 is about 3.5 km in length and will take 2 to 2.5 hours. It will start at 2pm at the Eltham Local History Centre 728 Main Road (Melway ref 21J7). Our early walks finished with a cuppa and biscuit and we will reinstate that feature for this walk.

This free walk is open to the general public as well as Society members. Dogs are not permitted on Society excursions. The phone number for contact on the day is 0409 021 063.

Photos of Percy Leason’s Residence Studio “Landscape” by David Bick from the Shire of Eltham Heritage Study 1992.

Source: RESIDENCE AND REAR CONCRETE STUDIO – “LANDSCAPE”, 60 LAVENDER PARK RD – See more at: http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/63480

Heritage Excursion: An Eltham South Ramble – 6th May 2017

Saturday, 6th May, 2017 at 2.00pm

Early view of Main Road looking south from Brougham Street to Dalton Street; site of the Avenue of Honour in memory of the 1914-1918 War.

In the early days of our Society our excursions were usually bus trips to places of historic interest away from Eltham. For nearly 20 years our excursions have been far more local, mainly comprising walks around many parts of the Eltham district. The first such walk was a leisurely stroll through the Eltham South area.

Although that walk has been repeated several times with some variations it is considered appropriate in this our 50th year to again take a ramble visiting historic sites in Eltham South. On the way we will pass such places as White Cloud Cottage, the old buildings of Eltham Primary School, teacher David Clark’s cottage “Shoestring” and artist Percy Leason’s house “Landscape”. We will walk through the historic Eltham Cemetery and Wingrove Park, a site of Aboriginal significance.

This walk on Saturday 6th May 2017 is about 3.5 km in length and will take 2 to 2.5 hours. It will start at 2pm at the Eltham Local History Centre 728 Main Road (Melway ref 21J7). Our early walks finished with a cuppa and biscuit and we will reinstate that feature for this walk.

This free walk is open to the general public as well as Society members. Dogs are not permitted on Society excursions. The phone number for contact on the day is 0409 021 063.

Photos of Percy Leason’s Residence Studio “Landscape” by David Bick from the Shire of Eltham Heritage Study 1992.

Source: RESIDENCE AND REAR CONCRETE STUDIO – “LANDSCAPE”, 60 LAVENDER PARK RD – See more at: http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/63480

Mystery Headstone – Peter Lawlor, 1821-1876

A Plea from Harry Gilham
‘I have an unfinished tale to tell……..’

To start…where were you on the Friday evening or Saturday morning of August 3rd – 4th 2013?

Why this question? Well, read on through this account to find out….and then, hopefully, you can help to fill in the blanks.

A weathered headstone, broken into three parts, was discvered that August night in a soggy cardboard box leant against the main entry to Eltham Cemetery in Mount Pleasant Road, Eltham. The headstone belonged to the 1876 burial of Peter Lawlor – no – not the Eureka Peter Lalor and possibly not even the Peter Lawlor who was the first Police Officer at the Eltham Police Station from 1857 to 1872, but maybe even another Peter Lawlor of, at the moment, an unknown background………or does the headstone belong to the policeman?

From the headstone we do know that his children were Michael, Margaret, Maud and Edith.

Lawlor Headstone-2

The Inscription reads:

Peter Lawlor
Who died February 12th 1876
Aged 55 years
Also his children
Michael
Margaret
Maud
and Edith

The maintenance staff at the cemetery carefully removed the dark green fungus to show those details. As you now walk past Site 22 in the cemetery you will notice that a bluestone base remains with a centre grooved indent, retaining most of the bottom edge of the headstone. The three recovered parts have been attached to a heavy wooden board and lie on the grave at site 22.

During the 1960’s to early 1980’s a list of all the headstone inscriptions in the Eltham Cemetery was compiled by ‘someone’. This Peter Lawlor headstone was not included in this list. From this omission we can assume that it had been taken/borrowed prior to compilation of the list.

Research by the Cemetery Trust Secretary, Rita Wooley using their records found the following information about this Peter Lawlor family:

  1. Peter Lawlor purchased the Catholic Church site Number 22 for £1 on March 2nd 1862. (This site is beside the Sweeney and Murray family graves).
  2. Margaret was the first of his children buried in Eltham on 2nd March 1862, aged one year.
  3. The second child buried was Maud Kate who was buried on 26th June 1869, aged 11 days.
  4. There is no record of the burial of his other children, Michael and Edith nor his wife (name unknown).

However, from the free offerings from Ancestory.com the following information was recently obtained, but needs further confirmation and consideration.

  • The Peter Lawlor who died aged 55 in 1876 has a middle name of Paul and his parents were Daniel Lawlor and Bridget Mulhall.
  • The son Michael Lawlor was Jeremiah Michael Lawlor who died in 1860 and whose parents were Peter and Kate (no surnames given)
  • Margaret Sarah Lawlor who died in 1862, has parents listed as Peter Lawlor and Catherine Ledwedge.
  • Maude Kate Lawlor who died in 1869, has parents listed as Peter Lawlor and Catherine Ledwedge. Edith Beatrice Lawlor who died in 1873 age 1, has parents listed as Peter and Kate.

The final bit of the confusion or is it the confirmation that the headstone is of the policeman and his family, is that the Eltham Primary School records list two children of Peter Lawlor (the policeman). The oldest is Albert Ledwedge Lawlor who joined the school aged 4 years in July 1866 and Peter Vincent de Paul Lawlor who joined the school aged 5 years 1 month in February 1869. Both left in March 1872.

The mystery is why or how did the headstone leave the cemetery and why or how or even by whom, did it return? Someone must know something! Any clues to the mystery are better than nothing.

The Eltham District Historical Society keeps records of early Eltham people and any additions are welcome. If you know anything about this Peter Lawlor and his family please contact anyone below. If needed, the sources of information can be anonymous by using the Post Office Box.

Contacts:

Eltham District Historical Society Post Office Box 137, Eltham 3095 or edhs1@bigpond.com
President – Jim Connor 9439 5916
Past President – Harry Gilham 9439 1175

Eltham Cemetery Trust
Secretary – Rita Wooley 9432 1963
Murray_Sweeney graves
The gravestone for Peter Lawlor and family lies adjacent to the Murray Sweeney graves

This article appeared in our January 2014 newsletter