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Crug Glas (Grug Glas) Graveyard, Swansea, Glamorgan
Original photography by John Ball -- 2:30 pm, 23 October 1998
(with Agfa ePhoto307 digital camera)
The above public notice appeared in the South Wales Evening Post newspaper on 19th October 1998. It gives details of the intention to remove human remains, tombstones and monuments from the Grug Glas [sic] church graveyard, Swansea, in order to build an apartment block, and sets out the procedures available to those whose ancestors or loved ones are buried in the graveyard which was once attached to Crug Glas Calvinistic Methodist Chapel (right). The original chapel was built in 1799, rebuilt in 1869/70, and demolished in the 1980s.
An observant member of the Glamorgan "RootsWeb" genealogy mailing list spotted the notice in the newspaper and drew it to the attention of fellow List members. I decided to visit the churchyard for myself and share my experience with you....
Report on Grug Glas Graveyard
Briefly, the graveyard is in an appalling state of neglect!!
There are, I would guess, well over 100 gravestones, many of whose inscriptions are still perfectly legible. The earliest I saw dated from the 1830s, and the latest was from 1920 -- but obviously I did not do a full survey. Some of the gravestones are badly eroded, and others have toppled over or collapsed. The graveyard is on sloping land, and is heavily overgrown. Maintenance of the site would have to be done by hand. Access to the graveyard on foot is good at two points, but two of the boundaries of the graveyard overlook a sheer drop of at least 20 feet, supported by a retaining wall. There is no sign of the chapel which once adjoined the graveyard.
Above: This appallingly neglected graveyard is at the back of an unofficial parking area in
Chapel Street, near the centre of Swansea. Approaching the graveyard, one can see a copy
of the public notice attached to some old iron railings.
Above: The graveyard is on steeply sloping ground facing Kilvey Hill,
on the opposite side of the Swansea's river Tawe.
Above: The old graves, with the high-rise apartment block behind, present a strange contrast.
Above: This was one of the oldest graves I discovered. The inscription reads:
TO THE MEMORY
of Elenor Llewellyn who died
August the 8th 1837 Aged 55
Above: Sadly, some of the tombstones were badly eroded.
Above: Other tombstones had toppled over, owing to the unstable nature of the ground.
One hopes the proposed apartment block will not suffer the same fate!!
Above: Yet other stones were obscured by the dense growth of vegetation.
Above: One of the side pieces of the central monument appeared to have been removed.
Above: Closer inspection revealed a mattress under the stone - the monument had recently
been used as a make-shift shelter by some poor itinerant! On the right, a yellow disposable
razor can be identified.
Above: Further evidence that someone has been living in the graveyard:
a saucepan, can-opener, clothing, and used tea-bags!!
Unless an objection is raised, work will go ahead with the removal of the human remains and tombstones in late December 1998. One hopes that all the personal tragedies and family history lying in this graveyard will be recorded for posterity before it is too late!!
Update: I understand that a survey of the tombstone inscriptions has been undertaken, and the details have been published by the Glamorgan Family History Society.
Report 1 – May 2004 (5½ years later)
Curious to know the outcome of the story reported above, I re-visited Crug Glas graveyard on 12 May 2004. Part of the burial yard had been destroyed and the remainder was totally enclosed in six-foot-high wooden fencing, preventing access (see photo below). Some of the gravestones were still in situ, while others had been removed from their original positions and stood upright against the fencing. The whole area was overgrown with dense vegetation.
One wonders what will happen if any descendants of the deceased decide to visit the graves of their ancestors!
John Ball – 12 May 2004
Below: Crug Glas graveyard, photographed on 12 May 2004 by John Ball.
Report 2 – October 2013 (15 years later)
Sue McGuire reports: "I was so intrigued at the story of the graveyard of Crug Glas that I went and found the graveyard, but had to return with a step ladder in order to take some photos. The graveyard is in a far more overgrown state now - and although there is a gate in the fence, it cannot be opened. I have attached a few photos.
One wonders what will happen if any descendants of the deceased decide to visit the graves of their ancestors!"
Sue McGuire – 6 October 2013
Below: Crug Glas graveyard, photographed on 6 October 2013 by Sue McGuire.
Below: Crug Glas graveyard shown on a Google Maps satellite image.
The graveyard is in the centre, immediately to the right of a parked car.
Above: 'Crug-glâs' Chapel and its burial grounds shown on large scale Ordnance Survey map, published in 1879/80.
The chapel had seating for a congregation of 700.
Below: Google satellite image of Crug Glas graveyard overlaid with the outline of the land once occupied by the chapel and its graveyards.