The British Are C… Oh Wait, No, They’ve Gone….

2010.Sep.06 Monday · 4 comments

in Life

On to the other “private” cemetery out at Chacarita, following on my little writeup of the German Cemetery, today, the British Cemetery. Originally, in 1822, this graveyard was located in the Retiro area, on the side of the Socorro church along Juncal, at Suipacha. Eleven years later it was moved to Victoria street, in Once, now called Hipolito Yrigoyen street, where it became known as the Victoria Cemetery, as part of the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. In 1892 the official cemetery was opened in its current location at the back of Chacarita, and the Victoria was left to gradually be paved and planted over. It was basically forgotten until the 1960s when construction crews unearthed it while creating the current day Plaza 1 de Mayo, and after much negotiating the majority of graves, or at least the long buried tombstones and markers, were moved to a wall in the current location. There is still, apparently, a plaque commemorating the cemetery at the Victoria site, and a fair amount of speculation that many graves were left unmoved.

Overall, it’s a pretty little cemetery – not near as well landscaped and such as the more formal German counterpart – and much seems haphazard. There is also no apparent British requirement to entry – the cemetery is home to a large Armenian population, a large Jewish section, and a variety of others, scattered hither and thither. Not having set out with any particular agenda, I missed out on some of the more famous burials, and just snapped a few random shots….

British Cemetery

First up, the Bridges family. I knew the name of Thomas Bridges was familiar when I saw it but chalked it up to just being a more or less common name. However, when checking out the name, I realized that he was an Anglican minister, the first missionary, and actually, one of the first white people, to head into Tierra del Fuego to stay – and was the founder of Estancia Harberton, which I visited on my Ushuaia trip last year. Also buried in the same plot are his second son (and the third “native white Ushuaian”, his older brother having been the first, and someone else, the second), Estaban Lucas, noted author of Uttermost Part of the Earth, the first book about the native populations of Tierra del Fuego, Lucas’ wife, Jannette, and his grandson, Percival William Reynolds, a naturalist who is best known for his works on the birds of the area, as well as partnering with his grandfather in creating the estancia.

British Cemetery

Next up, a bit of royalty and nobility – Guillermo de Achaval, Spanish Ambassador to Argentina and his wife, the Princesa Maria Pia de Borbon, who were actually married in the church Nuestra Señora del Pilar here in my ‘hood. Buried here as well, Maria’s daughter Isabel Padilla y Borbon, who became a famous architect here in town, as well as director of the Enrique Larretta Spanish Art Museum; her husband, Jose Manuel Berretta Moreno, a local lawyer, and, if I’ve read what I could find, Maria’s other, I gather, second, husband, Rafael Padilla y Avila, a writer from Tucumán. I may have the chronology slightly wrong – the two husbands thing isn’t all that clear.

British Cemetery

Simply intriguing. No last name, just a first, “Bill”, and apparently remembered quite fondly for his loyalty and nobility – I have to admit, the inscription reads almost like a tribute to a family’s canine companion….

British Cemetery

As I mentioned, there’s an entire Jewish section, with both monuments and small gravesites behind, along the wall.

British Cemetery

And, a section of the aforementioned memorial wall/section from the Victoria Cemetery.

One additional note of interest, just discovered in passing while searching for info on those above and some of the other photos I took, apparently, there’s a Jack the Ripper connection. Like many, I have no more than a cursory knowledge of Jack, and a good percentage of it gleaned from unreliable sources like TV shows, movies, etc. But apparently there was some connection to Buenos Aires – one or more of the suspected Jacks having been thought to have headed here. Following the casebook trail linked above might make an interesting wander in and of itself….

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Sally O'Boyle September 7, 2010 at 09:32

Formerly of abroadincostarica.com which is now abroadintheusa.com… thinking of abandoning that entirely for my new http://www.fiftytolife.com which is about obtaining Vibrant Health for my next 50 years. What do you think of that idea? I’m very excited about it (have not got it all widgeted up yet) and it’s a topic I’m totally into. Whereas, abroadintheusa has no focus and, frankly, what’s so interesting about the usa that I could fill a blog with funny stuff? There is little fun or funny about the usa today.

Ok, I’m writing a blog post here. Just trying this on for size. Would love your take on this idea.

And now back to you: love this post. I wish I’d done more historical investigation in Costa Rica (next time, lol!) I remember when I went to London in ’04 and was presented with some REAL history. I was stunned. I knew it was a tad older than the U.S. (I went to high school in KY, remember) but I was unprepared for how it hit me.

In Key West, selling houses, we used to brag about 100 year old homes… seemed kinda silly after being in London. What if I went to Egypt???

Pura vida, thanks for a refreshing history tour!

dan September 7, 2010 at 14:09

I know what you mean – I remember on a visit to a winery in Germany our host showing us around the family restaurant, which had been in continuous operation for more than 800 years; or standing in the Pantheon in Rome and realizing that it was in better shape at 1000 years old than many “historic” structures in the U.S. at less than 200….

I like the idea of both of the sites if you can keep up with them. Actually, I think the “abroadintheusa” idea is fantastic – as you noted, even if in relation to CR, people just don’t take the time to see the world around them, even locally. And the health idea is certainly something that will always have a readership, especially if you’re doing the research for your readers.

Juan Padilla de Bourbon July 14, 2015 at 00:31

sobre o Tumulo da Princesa Maria Pia ( minha avó ) , o primeiro marido era Rafael Padilla i Ávila , sendo o embaixador , sendo seu segundo marido .
Parabéns e obrigado a atenção ao Tumulo de minha avó .

Juan Alberto Pedro Alcantara Gabriel Fernando de Coelho Lisboa Padilla y de Borbon

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