K. and I had an enjoyable couple of hours at St Bartholomews, Prospect, this afternoon. It was really warm and sunny so it was a great day for wandering around amongst the old graves. The church has been restored by the local council and will be used for functions. The Friends of St Bartholomews are still working on restoring grave sites.
The church sits up on a hill between the Great Western Highway and the M4 motorway. Most people wouldn’t even realise that it is one of the oldest churches in NSW, built in 1841 as they drive past at high speed towards the Blue Mountains.
The Historical Society put small signs up near the gravestones explaining some of the personal history of some of residents. One of the earliest graves was of a woman who was convicted of highway robbery and sentenced to transportation in 1807. Try explaining highway robbery to a 5yo who can read all the words on signs now!
Someone had placed an Australian flag over a grave, another was almost covered in brightly coloured plastic flowers and many others had fresh flowers placed by family. There were quite a few people searching for the gravesites of their ancestors. I wasn’t – I don’t have any buried in this graveyard, but my family does have a connection through a baptism to the church.
The Rotary Association has placed a couple of benches under a tree near the top of the hill overlooking the newer section of the graveyard. We sat there for a while looking out at the view. The skyscrapers of Sydney were off in the distance, and we could see Chatswood as well.
K’s favourite part of the day was sitting in the shade of the Moreton Bay Fig tree eating home-made cupcakes – one raspberry velvet, the other vanilla.I didn’t get much of either one, really.
Just inside the church someone has placed a wishing well. If you place a coin in the well, you can ring the church bells as you make a wish. It is a pity that the bell-pull just disappears up through the plaster – you can’t see the bells ring, just hear them. But it was fun all the same.
We’ll probably go back again next year, if only to donate something towards saving this little bit of history.