Mickleham Methodist Church Cemetery

Mickleham Methodist Church Cemetery (c1858-c83)

'The Cemetery Amongst the Red Gum Trees'

View the Memorial Inscriptions of Mickleham Cemetery

What remains of the Mickleham Methodist Church Cemetery is located on the north side of Mt. Ridley Rd at Mickleham.  By 1852 is seems the congregation of Methodist Wesleyan farmers in the area had grown to the size where it warranted a permanent place of worship instead of being held in the homes of various parishioners.  A site, at that time being the property of the Cole family, was selected on the corner of what is now Mickleham Rd and Mt. Ridley Rd.

For some unrecorded reason the original site was never used and the acre of land the old cemetery now lies in on Mt. Ridley Rd was purchased by the Wesleyan Methodist Church off a local farmer, Thomas Langford who was elder of the local Wesleyan Church and held in trust by 12 community members, one being his brother Robert Langford-Sidebottom. 

In a Land Purchase document dated 14th of July 1852 Thomas Langford described 'of Melbourne' purchased section 11c for 158 in Mickleham, County of Bourke and on the 13th day of December 1854 he sold a portion of land to the church and 12 community members for one pound and ten shillings. 

  The very next year in 1855 the church is believed to have been erected and was described at being 'a stone chapel in the course of erection'.   The church was built of bluestone, It was also used as a school for some years until 1871 when the school was moved to other premises and the building was used for church services only.  Some years later it was discovered there were cracks in the stone walls of the chapel and the walls were giving way.  It became too dangerous to conduct services there and planning began by the community to construct a new church.

It was too expensive to rebuild the church in bluestone, so a weatherboard church on the original site in Mickleham Rd was erected in it's place, known today as the Uniting Church at Mickleham.  All traces of the bluestone Mickleham Methodist Church have since long disappeared on the site and all that remains are a some depressions in the ground at the front, right of the site with a few broken stones which suggests the site of the church/school may have been located on that spot and some broken and weathered headstones, all left to remind us of days long gone by.  The Old Cemetery at Mickleham land was transferred over to the Uniting Church of Australia in 1983.

Recently is has been claimed by a descendant of Langford-Sidebottom family that there could have been up to 200 souls buried at the site.  It has been claimed an old resident living not far from the cemetery site used the original wooden grave markers for firewood leaving only what we see today, the few remaining stone grave markers on the site in poor condition.

Some of the residents of the Old Mickleham Cemetery are a sad reminder of the pioneering days long past.

 

Left: Fragments of old Williams headstones at the Mickleham Cemetery.

Right: The broken headstone of Eliza Williams and her five children.

 

 

The five children of John and Eliza Williams all dying of diphtheria one after another in 1876 are buried under the broken headstone.  The headstone is broken in half with the remnants lying in the grass nearby.  John and Eliza Williams came from Wiltshire in England and John worked at Mt. Ridley Station till they eventually acquired their own property at Mickleham and farmed on a small scale. 

 Priscilla and her parents George & Maria Parnell

George and Maria Parnell were early keepers of the Parnell's Inn, an early staging post for travellers along the Sydney Road.  Thirza Parnell is also buried here George's second wife after he divorced Maria Parnell.

Robert Langford Sidebottom

Died 1877

Robert was brother to Thomas Langford who sold the land for the cemetery.  Robert was a landowner of 265 acres on Mt. Ridley Rd at Mickleham not far from Thomas and served on the Road Board and Council for many years.

The headstone of Martha Williams daughter of John and Mary Ann Williams (nee Ostler) who died in June 1858 of Typhus fever. The Williams family who were Cornish farmers had come to Australia from Penstrace, Kenwyn in Cornwall 9 years earlier on the ship 'General Palmer' in 1849 with their 6 children, Martha being the youngest.

Although any remains of the headstone now is long gone, the twin daughters of Nathan and Jane Unwin are buried in this cemetery.  Nathan Unwin a farmer in the area and Jane his wife had twin daughters who both eventually died at Mickleham and are buried in the cemetery.  In 1879  Myra Unwin died aged 2 months and a year later in 1880 Lena Violet Unwin died aged 10 months of pneumonia.

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