Overleigh Old Cemetery, Chester.

On a warm sunny summers day I took a walk with the dead of the city – the air was warm and the graves well packed in, some with hardly a space between them.

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It was strange walking around with all the head stones pointing away from me… tall and small, they spoke of the good folk of the place, long gone, but not forgotten… I did not tarry long to stand and stare for it felt as if I was, in some strange way a stranger in their midst!

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No bones lie here who’s blood once ran in veins fashioned out of the same ancestry as me!

So I walked around in the sun, taking photo’s and in a half dreamy state observed the shades dimly with out much notice. Once, one made its self known upon this mortal coil, as I disturbed it – the Watcher perhaps, taken aback by my passing him by; indigent in his attitude that such a thing as I, should walk on Hallowed ground!

Amused, I muttered low and carried on walking with a wave of the hand – not for this fellow the ’round of life’ but staid, certain, watchfulness.

Then I came to the spot where everything changed – no more the clipped lawns and edges of tidy folk, but the wild edges in which graves once (when the earth was clear) had a clean view over the river, dark and brooding ready to claim what she could…

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Here steps down to a bridge over the ghost of lake evoked superstitions of crossing water and spirits, coffins carried feet first, corpse roads and ancient customs still remembered when this place was anew.

Here as I crossed, the veil was thin, but it was but the memory of the veil, as if those buried here knew it and passed through it and now where separated in death (as they could have been in life) from the others, certain in the resurrection of their own one God.

Here lay, those who in the dim distant past, were once kin to my ilk… they bid me, one day to return and drink from the cup of memory with them as they lie, in sweet slumber by the river they once crossed, on the sunny side of the lake, where the Castle stands, and the roses bloom filling the air with their sweet perfumes.

“Mother of this unfathomable world!
Favour my solemn song, for I have loved
Thee ever, and thee only; I have watched
Thy shadow, and the darkness of thy steps,
And my heart ever gazes on the depth
Of thy deep mysteries. I have made my bed
In charnels and on coffins, where black death
Keeps record of the trophies won from thee,
Hoping to still these obstinate questionings
Of thee and thine, by forcing some lone ghost
Thy messenger, to render up the tale
Of what we are.
In lone and silent hours,
When night makes a weird sound of its own stillness,
Like an inspired and desperate alchymist
Staking his very life on some dark hope,
Have I mixed awful talk and asking looks
With my most innocent love, until strange tears
Uniting with those breathless kisses, made
Such magic as compels the charmèd night
To render up thy charge:…and, though ne’er yet
Thou hast unveiled thy inmost sanctuary,
Enough from incommunicable dream,
And twilight phantasms, and deep noon-day thought,
Has shone within me, that serenely now
And moveless, as a long-forgotten lyre
Suspended in the solitary dome
Of some mysterious and deserted fane,
I wait thy breath, Great Parent, that my strain
May modulate with murmurs of the air,
And motions of the forests and the sea,
And voice of living beings, and woven hymns
Of night and day, and the deep heart of man….”

“The spirit of solitude”.
Percy B Shelly

A friend suggested this poem, which does indeed ‘fit’ the space perfectly ~ thank you Marie 🙂

Note: a complimentary post can be found here with further info on the site.

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4 thoughts on “Overleigh Old Cemetery, Chester.

  1. What a beautiful place! It seems to serene and almost surreal. I love to visit the cemeteries in the UK! The feelings, the ornamentation of the stones, the age and the slight bit of wildness is certainly something to behold and altogether different from the usual neat and tidy American cemeteries. Though I do believe you have inspired me to visit a cemetery here in Kalamazoo that is nice and it’s been some time since I have been there. Perhaps this week…

    1. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head Amie! Tranquil to the point of the surreal! Especially in the far corner by the river ~ which sadly, I could not see for the trees!

      The spot is very ‘out of the way’ i.e. not on a through road and one that on my travels to and from the city over the years, I have spied from the busy road bridge over the river! It had ‘called’ me for years, yet stayed hidden and took some finding (thanks goes to the nice lady who directed me) even though I was right by it!

      A place I shall return to for quiet contemplation and further research will be done online soon 🙂

  2. I visit this cemetery often. Sometimes more than once a week. I find it beyond peaceful. The sound of the traffic seems to disappear and all that is left is birdsong and the rustle of leaves/branches as the squirrels play. It’s where I come to have some quiet time and to leave little gifts and tidy up the graves of those who for one reason or another, no longer have anyone to tend the grave. The grave of the bubble gum girl is one to certainly see if ever visiting the cemetery. There is so much history and folklore to this place. I can think of no other place I’d rather be than taking a stroll through here with my camera, having a sit down and maybe a read of a book or even the occasional conversation with the gentle folk that reside there 🙂

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