Waverley Cemetery | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Waverley Cemetery

Item details

Name of item: Waverley Cemetery
Other name/s: Waverley Cemetery, General Cemetery Waverley
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Cemeteries and Burial Sites
Category: Cemetery/Graveyard/Burial Ground
Location: Lat: -33.9090793913 Long: 151.26712342
Primary address: St. Thomas Street, Bronte, NSW 2024
Parish: Alexandria
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Waverley
Local Aboriginal Land Council: La Perouse
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1877 DP1173589

Boundary:

Cemetery grounds bound by Trafalgar Street to the north (excluding Calga Reserve), Boundary Street to the south, St Thomas Street and Fig Tree Lane to the west and the Pacific Ocean coastline to the east.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
St. Thomas StreetBronteWaverleyAlexandriaCumberlandPrimary Address
Trafalgar StreetWaverleyWaverley  Alternate Address
Boundary StreetWaverleyWaverley  Alternate Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Waverley CouncilLocal Government 

Statement of significance:

Waverley Cemetery is of state heritage significance as a general public Victorian-era cemetery that is the final resting place for more than 100,000 people. Sited in an urban setting, against a dramatic natural landscape of the Pacific Ocean with its steep cliffs and the endless horizon, Waverley Cemetery is a picturesque urban burial ground that contains a collection of highly intact funerary monuments and furniture dating from 1877.

Its earliest elements demonstrate the moral standards and religious philosophies of the Australian community in the Victorian period and, through the continuity of the cemetery's use to the present day and the gradual introduction of alternative funerary designs and interment practices throughout the years, the cemetery demonstrates the cultural diversity and changing social values and attitudes of the Australian people towards death and its commemoration over some 140 years. The aesthetic continuity of Waverley Cemetery is largely due to the strict management of the cemetery in the early periods of its development.

Waverley Cemetery is of state heritage significance for its association with a number of high-achieving, famous and notable people from across NSW, Australia and the world. Some of its most famous names include Henry Lawson (writer and poet); Dorothea Mackellar (poet); Jules Francoise Archibald (journalist and benefactor of the Archibald art prize); Sir James Martin (NSW Premier); Sarah 'Fanny' Durack (Olympic gold medal swimmer); members of the Cavill family of famous swimmers - Arthur, Charles, Ernest and Frederick Cavill; William Dymock (book retailer); Victor Trumper (batsman from the 'Golden Age' of cricket); Lawrence Hargrave (aviator and inventor); Nicholas Weekes (prominent freemason); and Michael Dwyer (revolutionary leader of the 1798 Irish Rebellion).

As an operational general public cemetery, Waverley Cemetery is of state heritage significance for its demonstration of the historic and contemporary social character of Sydney and NSW. Waverley Cemetery contains a wealth of genealogical, historical, architectural and artistic information which makes it a significant public educational resource for NSW.

Internationally, the Waverley Cemetery has been reported to be one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world - among the likes of England's Highgate Cemetery and Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
Date significance updated: 13 Aug 15
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Builder/Maker: R. Watkins (cemetery lodge, 1878), P. Beddie (cemetery office. 1915),
Construction years: 1877-
Physical description: Waverley Cemetery is uniquely positioned on an elevated urban site overlooking the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Waverley townscape to the west. Spanning some 16 hectares, Waverley Cemetery retains much of its Victorian layout and geometric grid-like pattern of burials (north-south axis).

Despite its suburban environment, Waverley Cemetery is dominated by its cliff top location and its expansive views to the ocean and horizon. The contrast of the natural and man-made elements combine to create a picturesque setting for the cemetery.

Containing over 90,000 burials and interments, Waverley Cemetery is dominated by white marble monuments and headstones from the mid-to-late 19th century as well as a selection of later funerary furniture that demonstrate the changing social values and attitudes towards death it has experienced during its operation (1877 to present). the cemetery also contains various additions to older elements for example the the Circle Garden containing interment of ashes created in a former garden area.

Inside its boundaries, the cemetery forms its own enclosed townscape where, apart from the ocean view to the east, all other major views are within the cemetery itself across its own landscape and monuments. This occurs because the cemetery occupies a valley and two adjacent ridges.

Major monuments and memorials within Waverley Cemetery are situated at key points such as at the junction of main roads and pathways and other key vantage points at the edge of cemetery sections. Major monuments prominent in the landscape include the 1798 Memorial; the Governor Duff monument; the Henry Kendall monument; the Johnston family vault; the Greek Revival monument to Sir James Martin; and the Chowder Bay Monument.

The 1798 Memorial has a central theme of martyrdom. The architect's brief called for 'a monument in Irish architecture' to the memory of the 1798 rebels. The design was on an imposing scale calculated to make a strong impact. The design was also heavily influenced by the chairman of the organising committee Dr Charles MacCarthy (1848-1919), who was an award-winning sculptor, painter, musician and writer. The base of the memorial is 30 feet (9.1 metres) wide and 24 feet (7.3 metres) deep. The back wall rises 10 feet (3 metres) above the ground and the height of the cross is 30 feet (9.1 metres) . The main material is Carrara marble. The rear wall is decorated with bronze plaques and the floor has mosaic pictures of thatched cottages and round towers. Commemorations are conducted inside the memorial which effectively forms a 'church sanctuary' or stage while onlookers gather on the surrounding driveways and paths. The monument was erected by Ross and Bowman (stonemasons). The memorial is located in the centre of Waverley Cemetery, facing north at the end of a 180 metre main driveway (Whitaker, 2008).

Another individual monument of significance is the Stuart family vault. Dating from 1914-1916 this is a surviving work from the partnership of Walter Burley Griffin, Marion Mahony Griffin and J.Burcham Clamp. James Stuart was the founding partner of Stuart Brothers, master builders. The tomb is situated on a prominent junction at the terminal point of two large retaining walls. Built of granite the vault features gothic detailing with a pyramindal roof form built from slabs of stone. Twin doors in heavy bronze face the ocean on the eastern side of the vault. These are cast with a prismatic pattern that at head height forms a double set of diamond shaped vents. The doors are flanked by polished granite tablets with gilded inscriptions to the memory of members of the Stuart family. Other detailing includes buttresses with lancet tracery and more prismatic patterning around the cornice of the vault. There is a granite urn near the entry doors. On the western wall a round ended cross is formed by the intersection of four granite blocks, which also provides ventilation for the vault.
(M M Griffin, W B Griffin, A J Watson, 1998; 75-76).

Waverley Cemetery contains a number of early buildings, independent structures and built elements. The cemetery office, residence and amenities building are located at the entrance of the cemetery while a number of shelters are within the cemetery itself. The cemetery also contains substantial sandstone retaining walls and terracing, pathways, and remnants of sandstone road kerbing and guttering. The cemetery also retains key landscape elements including mature Norfolk Island Pines on the boundaries, Canary Island Date Palms within the cemetery and numerous remnant historic shrubs and grave plantings and more recenlty established garden areas.

Dorothea MacKellar, author of famed poem 'My Country' is buried at Waverley Cemetery, having been born in Point Piper and lived in Darling Point (Dunara, her family house, still stands: also an SHR item), after a distinguished writing career, she died in a Randwick nursing home in 1968 at the age of 82 (unattrib., 2017, 5).

Just uphill from MacKellar's grave is that of Maggie Oliver, a famous and beloved stage actor in her time, died in 1892 aged 45. Known for her comic timing and cheerful nature, she was beaten for yers by an abusive husband who she divorced, unusually for the era (Taffel, 2018, 36). Oliver trod the boards all over Australia in the 1860s. But when the curtain fell, her home life was one of domestic violence at the hands of husband, John. His employer, Mr Gougenheim, hearing of John's shameful treatment of Maggie, discharged him (Goltz & Adams, 2018, online).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Historically a self-sustaining facility, funded entirely by the sale of grave plots and interments, Waverley Cemetery is in reasonable condition due to the past allocation of funds towards maintenance over the lifetime of the cemetery. In recent years, some areas of the cemetery have deteriorated.

The cemetery is susceptible to damaging forces. As well as human vandalism and general age-related deterioration, the cemetery is also particularly vulnerable to environmentally-caused salt corrosion (metalwork), wind erosion (masonry) and algae and lichen growth on the headstones.
Date condition updated:13 Apr 15
Current use: Cemetery, passive cultural recreation, film and photography, and education
Former use: Cemetery

History

Historical notes: The land on which Waverley Cemetery is located is traditionally the land of the Cadigal people of the Eora nation. As with most Aboriginal groups in Australia prior to European colonisation, the Cadigal people lived a traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle that utilised the natural resources available in their environment to achieve the physical and spiritual nourishment to sustain their way of life. Evidence of the areas occupation by the Cadigal people is demonstrated in both archaeological (rock shelters, art sites, middens) and non-archaeological forms (creation sites, ceremonial places).

Today, the Waverley area is a densely populated and urban environment and, although Waverley Cemetery is not known to contain identified Aboriginal sites (to date), its cliff top environment is regarded as archaeologically sensitive as it is considered likely to contain sites of Aboriginal significance.

European exploration into the coastal region of eastern Sydney commenced in the early 19th century when the establishment of a military outpost at South Head and the completion of the first roadway to the South Head Lighthouse (1811) gave settlers their first cursory view of the coastal landscape of the new colony. The opening up of the region soon saw the allocation of early land grants to prominent settlers in the locality.

In the early years of the colony, the first cemetery (although never formally gazetted) was established on the outskirts of the town on the site of today's Sydney Town Hall. At the time of its selection and development in the 1790s, the Old Sydney Burial Ground reflected the attitudes of the European colonists of the period towards death and burial - essentially relegating cemeteries to the periphery of the colony out of fear of ill-health, disease and contamination from the dead. At this time, cemeteries were a necessity and not a place of remembrance and commemoration.

By 1820, the Old Sydney Burial Ground was considered full and a new cemetery was laid out at Devonshire Street (Brickfield Hill), today's Sydney's Central Railway Station. Soon enough, by the middle of the century, this cemetery too was at capacity and an alternative location for the Sydney Necropolis was sought. In keeping with common social values, Haslem's Creek (now Rookwood Cemetery) was selected as the new location in 1862. Sited on the outskirts of both the Sydney and Parramatta settlements, Haslem's Creek was also served by the main western railway line. The relocation of burial services away from central Sydney soon caused difficulties for those living along the eastern coastline and those residents quickly became reliant on St. Jude's Anglican Church at Randwick (1853). Although a cemetery was planned from the 1840s, interments did not take place at South Head General Cemetery until 1869.

Waverley Municipal Council, itself only proclaimed in 1859, soon recognised that a general cemetery was needed to service the developing community of the eastern suburbs and, in 1868, reserved 1200 pounds to purchase ten acres for the establishment of the cemetery. Although the selected land remained on the periphery of the community, social attitudes towards death and burial had shifted by this time, away from those held during the early years of the colony. Society now desired picturesque, garden-like spaces where people could visit, remember and commemorate those who had passed. Cemeteries were no longer to be dark and forbidding places, avoided out of fear and paranoia.

Following the purchase of a further 12 acres, Waverley Cemetery was formally opened on 1 August 1877 and its first interment (of Ruth Allen, 85 years), took place on the afternoon of 4 August 1877. From its first intimations, Waverley Cemetery was to be a grand metropolitan cemetery honouring the high moral standard and respect of the Victorian era and it would reflect the social prosperity of the Waverley community.

To manage the operation of the new facility, William Thomas was appointed as the first manager of Waverley Cemetery in 1877. Responsible for its day-to-day operation, Thomas conducted the development of the cemetery in accordance with a strict set of bylaws that governed its objectives with particular regard to style, layout and colours of headstones, grave sites and funerary furniture.

Laid out professionally as a cemetery of the Victorian style and with its recurring use of ethereally white Italian Carrara marble, Waverley Cemetery soon resembled a strategic collection of individual memorials that portrayed a cohesive and unified visual character. Perhaps because of this visually pleasing effect when coupled with its dramatic natural setting, the cemetery proved to be highly popular with the community and its establishment costs were recovered entirely within the first year.

In the years following its establishment and with the extension of the steam tramway to the site in 1890, Waverley Cemetery expanded with the acquisition of a further 18 acres of land - bringing it to its current form of 40 acres (16 hectares). It also saw the construction of a number of built elements on the site (including the Caretaker's House, Cemetery Lodge, Waiting Room, Cemetery Gates, shelters, external fencing, sandstone walling and grounds terracing).

Commenced in 1898 and completed by 1901, a substantial memorial to the 1798 Irish Rebellion was constructed at the cemetery. A large and imposing monument of white Carrara marble, intricately decorated with sculptures, plaques, inscriptions, medallions and mosaic and topped with a 30 foot carved cross, the monument was to be a testament to Ireland's struggle for self-government and its patriots who fought in the rebellion. Designed by John Hennessy of architectural firm Sherrin and Hennessy, the memorial is the largest monument to the rebellion in the world. Elevating it to a somewhat sacred status, the memorial contains the interred remains of the leader of the revolution movement, Michael Dwyer (d. 1825) and his wife Mary (d.1860). Originally buried at Sydney's Sandhills Cemetery (the site of today's Central Railway Station), the Dwyers were exhumed and reinterred at Waverley Cemetery in 1898. Attended by some 100,000 people, the relocation and interment of the Dwyers was the largest gathering of any 1798 rebellion centenary event in the world.

Waverley Cemetery continued to expand throughout the 20th century, both in numbers and architectural diversity. The grand Victorian era of its establishment slowly morphed into the humbler Edwardian times which saw the introduction of cremation services to the cemetery. Its ongoing use also saw the installation of a substantial collection of funerary monuments that ranged in fashion and style, reflecting the cultural diversity and social values of the people of NSW.

The Great Depression and the world wars bought further change to the cemetery and to the monuments and memorials that were being installed.

Over its lifetime, Waverley Cemetery has received numerous high-achieving, famous and notable people from across NSW, Australia and the world, including: Henry Lawson (writer and poet); Henry Kendall (poet); Dorothea Mackellar (poet); Jules Francoise Archibald (journalist and benefactor of the Archibald art prize); Sir Frances Forbes (first Chief Justice of NSW); Sarah 'Fanny' Durack (Olympic gold medal swimmer); William Dymock (book retailer); Nicholas Weekes (prominent freemason); John Fingleton OBE (Australian Cricketer and 'Bodyline' veteran) and Lawrence Hargrave (aviator and inventor).

Waverley Cemetery continues to be an operational burial facility today (2015). Its naturally picturesque and urban location has made it a particularly sought after and desirable cemetery and it now contains more than 100,000 burials and interments.

Major coastal storms over a weekend in June 2016 led to the collapse of some 77,000m2 of fill in the gully int he centre of the cemetery. The Bondi-to-Bronte coastal walk through the cemetery was closed but has reopened, but the original route hugging the cliff face has been changed for safety concerns (Thompson, 2016).

Environment & Heritage Minister Mark Speakman announced on 23/10/2016 the State Heritage Register listing of Waverley Cemetery. 'Waverley Cemetery is the final resting place of many prominent Australians, Mr Speakman said. ' Poets Henry Lawson and Dorothea Mackellar...Olympic gold medal swimmer Sarah 'Fanny' Durack and cricket batsman Victor Trumper are all buried in Waverley'. Member for Coogee Bruce Notley-Smith said the heritage listing would be warmly received by the eastern suburbs community (Daily Telegraph, 24/10/2016, 11).

In April 2017 the 1922 (former NSW Premier, Supreme Court judge and Agent-General for NSW 1917-19) Sir Charles Wade memorial was restored with grant funding from the NSW government, and Waverley Council secured a community war memorial fund grant to do a conservation assessment of the 1894 Middle Head Submarine Mine Explosion Monument.

In 2017 poet Libby Hathorn and the Society of Women Writers of NSW, crowd-funded over $2000 towards the cost of a new marble etched grave tablet on Dorothea MacKellar's grave in the cemetery, quoting her famous poem's line: I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains, of ragged mountain ranges, of droughts and flooding rains'. This was unveiled in a ceremony with Waverley Mayor John Wakefield present. MacKellar was born in Point Piper (in Dunara, a SHR-listed house), lived at Darling Point, worked for the Red Cross and after an accomplished writing career, died in a Randwick nursing home in 1968, aged 82 (Conway, Wentworth Courier, 5/4/17, 24).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Ethnic influences-Activities associated with common cultural traditions and peoples of shared descent, and with exchanges between such traditions and peoples. Scottish settlers-
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Ethnic influences-Activities associated with common cultural traditions and peoples of shared descent, and with exchanges between such traditions and peoples. Irish migrants-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes of cultural and natural interaction-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation Remembering the fallen-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Death-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Places of informal community gatherings-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. Crematoria-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. Marking the phases of life-National Theme 9
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. Operating and maintaining cemeteries and burial grounds-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. Burying and remembering notable persons-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. Remembering the deceased-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Henry Lawson, poet and writer-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Sarah 'Fanny' Durack, Olympic swimmer-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Major George Johnston, soldier, administrator, farmer-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Dorothea McKellar, Poetess-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Henry Kendall (b.1869), poet and writer-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Governor (Rt.Hon.) Sir William Duff PC, GCMG, 1893-1895-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with the Johnston family, Lt. Governor and farmers-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Jules Francois Archibald, founding editor of The Bulletin-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Victor Trumper, cricketer-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Michael Dwyer, Irish rebel-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Sheerin and Hennessy, architects-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Waverley Cemetery is of state heritage significance as a general public Victorian-era cemetery that is the final resting place for more than 100,000 people.

Opened in 1877, in the picturesque cemetery design of the mid-to-late 19th century, the geometric layout and early funerary monuments of Waverley Cemetery demonstrate the moral standards and religious philosophies of the Australian community in the Victorian period. Through the continuity of the cemetery's use to the present day, and the gradual introduction of alternative funerary designs and interment practices throughout the years, the cemetery demonstrates the cultural diversity and changing social values and attitudes of the Australian people towards death and its commemoration over some 140 years.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Waverley Cemetery is of state heritage significance for its association with a number of high-achieving, famous and notable people from across NSW, Australia and the world. Operating for over a century and the final resting place for over 100,000 people, Waverley Cemetery has buried and interred a diverse selection of notable people from literary, business, arts, political and sporting backgrounds.

Some of its most famous names include Henry Lawson (writer and poet); Henry Kendall (poet); Dorothea Mackellar (poet); Jules Francoise Archibald (journalist and benefactor of the Archibald art prize); Sir Frances Forbes (first Chief Justice of NSW); Sir James Martin (NSW Premier); Sarah 'Fanny' Durack (Olympic gold medal swimmer); members of the Cavill family of famous swimmers - Arthur, Charles, Ernest and Frederick Cavill; William Dymock (book retailer); Victor Trumper (batsman from the 'Golden Age' of cricket); John Fingleton OBE (Australian Cricketer and 'Bodyline' veteran); Nicholas Weekes (prominent freemason); Lawrence Hargrave (aviator and inventor) and George Freeman (Sydney organised crime figure).

Waverley Cemetery contains over 200 various war graves from past conflicts, including over 100 burials from World War I and nearly 20 from World War II. At least eleven United States Civil War veterans are also buried at Waverley Cemetery.

Waverley Cemetery also houses the 1798 Memorial, a commemorative monument to those 'Who dared and suffered for Ireland' in the rebellion led by the United Irishmen of 1798. This memorial is also final resting place of Michael Dwyer, 'The Wicklow Chief' a revolutionary leader of the 1798 Irish Rebellion who died in Sydney in 1825. The remains of Michael Dwyer and his wife were moved from the Devonshire Street Cemetery to Waverley Cemetery in 1898 (the centenary of the 1798 Rebellion). The 1798 Memorial commemorates subsequent events such as the Easter Rising of 1916 and the Long Kesh Hunger Strikes of 1981 (additional tablet at rear).
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Waverley Cemetery is of state heritage significance for its aesthetic values.

Sited in an urban setting, against a dramatic natural landscape of the Pacific Ocean with its steep cliffs and the endless horizon, Waverley Cemetery is a picturesque urban burial ground that contains a collection of highly intact funerary monuments and grave furniture of a refined palette (marble and stone) which demonstrates a comprehensive range of Victorian and Edwardian artistic elements. Many monuments feature statuary such as angels, cherubs, seraphs, mourning figures and occasional portrait medallions or busts; substantial pedestals topped with urns or spires; and Christian crosses. Smaller monuments such as stone desks often include carved decorations using floral relief, birds, crowns, and other symbolism. There is a consistent palette of materials throughout the site which is dominated by sandstone and white marble with inlaid lead lettering - granite, trachyte and other materials are less prominent.

Inside its boundaries, the cemetery forms its own enclosed townscape where, apart from the ocean view to the east, all other major views are within the cemetery itself across its own landscape and monuments. The cemetery retains a nineteenth century layout with many roadways still lined with sandstone kerbs, gutters and drains.

The architecture and design of much of its earlier elements from the Victorian period reflect the social attitudes towards death and commemoration at the time of its construction. However the ongoing use and expansion of the cemetery has seen the gradual introduction of alternative funerary styles and fashions that reflect the cultural diversity and evolution of the people of NSW over time.

Waverley Cemetery includes an unusual suite of cemetery structures including the main entry gates with iron palisade fence and sandstone pillars; the nearby sandstone office and waiting room building with associated residence and amenities buildings and a series of shelter sheds and sandstone retaining walls throughout the site. The cemetery also retains key landscape elements including mature Norfolk Island Pines on the boundaries, Canary Island Date Palms within the cemetery and numerous remnant historic shrubs and grave plantings.

Major monuments and memorials within Waverley Cemetery are situated at key points such as at the junction of main roads and pathways and other key vantage points at the edge of cemetery sections. This makes these major monuments prominent items in the landscape when within the cemetery. Examples include the Irish Martyrs' Memorial; the Governor Duff monument; the Henry Kendall monument; the Johnston family vault; the Greek Revival monument to Sir James Martin; and the Chowder Bay Monument.

Internationally, the Waverley Cemetery has been reported to be one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world - among the likes of England's Highgate Cemetery and Paris's Pere Lachaise Cemetery.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
As an operational general public cemetery, Waverley Cemetery is of state heritage significance for its demonstration of the historic and contemporary social character of Sydney and NSW. The fabric of the cemetery reflects the cultural and religious diversity of the Australian community since 1877 and its contemporary social significance is increased by its public accessibility and use by residents and visitors by virtue of its central metropolitan location.

Prominent individuals and families are buried or interred at the cemetery and, as a genealogical resource, Waverley Cemetery is a significant educational asset for NSW.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Waverley Cemetery is of state heritage significance for its educational and research potential. With its wealth of genealogical, historical, architectural and artistic information, Waverley Cemetery is a significant and readily accessible resource that is available to much of the NSW population by virtue of its central metropolitan location.

The craftsmanship of the funerary monuments, demonstrated by rich examples from the Victorian, Edwardian and Inter-War eras, reflects social values and attitudes towards death and mourning in NSW since 1877. Furthermore, the array of funerary ornamentation demonstrates the changes in social fashions and taste over the decades and serve to reflect the impact of many international events on the activities of people in NSW (such as the Depression and the world wars).
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Cemeteries of the same historical period are generally similar in layout, style and purpose but Waverley Cemetery is a notable example in NSW for its distinctive and picturesque setting on the Bronte cliff tops. The siting makes the cemetery both a place of remembrance as well as a passive recreational facility as part of the popular and well-known coastal walk from Bondi to the popular beaches of Bronte, Clovelly and Coogee.

Once sited on the periphery of the Sydney colony, the retention of Waverley Cemetery in its now urban and desirable setting has seen the cemetery become a strikingly significant and intact open space in metropolitan Sydney.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Waverley Cemetery is of state heritage significance as a representative example of a burial ground that can demonstrate the principle characteristics of a general public cemetery from the Victorian period in NSW. The geometric layout and early funerary monuments of the Waverley Cemetery reflect the social values and attitudes of the Australian community towards death and commemoration in the mid-to-late 19th century.

The ongoing operation of the cemetery and the gradual introduction of different styles and funerary fashions can also demonstrate the changing attitudes of the community towards funerary practices in NSW over time.
Integrity/Intactness: Historically a self-sustaining facility, funded entirely by the sale of grave plots and interments, Waverley Cemetery is in reasonable condition due to the allocation of sufficient and regular funds towards maintenance over the lifetime of the cemetery. Maintenance of individual grave plots is the responsibility of the family of the deceased and therefore some plots are in a more degraded condition than others.

Dominated by white Carrara marble monuments of the mid-to-late 19th century, alternative materials have been introduced to Waverley Cemetery during its operation. Coloured granite (predominantly black and rose), however sparingly used, does detract from the Victorian nature of the site.

The cemetery is, however, susceptible to damaging forces. As well as human vandalism and general age-related deterioration, the cemetery is also particularly vulnerable to environmentally-caused salt corrosion (metalwork), wind erosion (masonry) and algae and lichen growth on the headstones.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

Recommendations

Management CategoryDescriptionDate Updated
Recommended ManagementProduce a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) 
Recommended ManagementPrepare a maintenance schedule or guidelines 
Recommended ManagementCarry out interpretation, promotion and/or education 

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act - Site Specific Exemptions HERITAGE ACT 1977

ORDER UNDER SECTION 57(2)
TO GRANT SITE SPECIFIC EXEMPTIONS FROM APPROVAL

Waverley Cemetery

SHR No. 1975

I, the Minister for Heritage, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, in pursuance of section 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, do, by this my order, grant an exemption from section 57(1) of that Act in respect of the engaging in or carrying out of any activities described in Schedule 'C' by the owner or manager of the land described in Schedule 'B' on the item described in Schedule 'A'.


The Hon Mark Speakman SC MP
Minister for Heritage


Sydney, 8 Day of June 2016


SCHEDULE 'A'

The item known as Waverley Cemetery, situated on the land described in Schedule 'B'.


SCHEDULE 'B'

All those pieces or parcels of land known as Lot 1877 DP 1173589 in Parish of Alexandria, County of Cumberland shown on the plan catalogued HC 2723 in the office of the Heritage Council of New South Wales.

SCHEDULE 'C'

1.Maintenance and Repair
- Manual clearing of paths and drains;
- Maintenance of any roads, paths, signs, fences, drains and buildings where maintenance means the continuous protective care of significant existing materials;
- Hand weeding of grave plots;
- Mowing of lawns and paths;
- Poisoning of weeds by careful spot application of a herbicide not affecting ornamental or symbolic plantings or remnant native vegetation;
- Careful spraying of paths with selective herbicide;
- Remedial tree surgery carried out according to professional horticultural standards;
- Removal of dead, dying or dangerous trees or tree limbs in cases where there is a public safety risk;
- Sympathetic repair and maintenance of existing roads, paths, signs and drains where like-for-like replacement materials are used and consideration is given to the effect of cumulative replacement;
- Suppression of fires in cases of threat to human lives, property or cemetery monuments;
- Repair to fences where like-for-like replacement materials are used;
- Graffiti removal by use of low pressure water and neutral detergents and mild brushing and scrubbing with a soft bristle brush;
- Sympathetic repairs to buildings where like-for-like replacement materials are used and consideration is given to the effect of cumulative replacement; and
- Sympathetic maintenance and repairs to retaining walls using existing or like-for-like replacement materials and consideration is given to the effect of cumulative replacement.

2.Use of the Cemetery
- Continued use of existing family vaults;
- Interments, including coffin burials/ ash internments in new and/ or existing family allotments. If new memorials are required, memorials are to be in keeping with and sympathetic to the original cemetery style (Victorian/ Edwardian);
- Erection of standard memorials in any areas used by the Armed Services;
- Erection of memorials in family plots remaining in use provided memorials are in keeping with those existing;
- Re-lettering / addition of inscriptions where this is undertaken in an equivalent and compatible letter type or attachment of panels of other compatible materials to existing monuments;
- Ceremonies, Funerals and gatherings that are consistent with Memorial Services; and
- Organised tours.

3.Minor Activities
- The development of new memorialisation areas which may include the alteration of non-significant structures;
- Change of building use including the alteration of internal non-significant fabric;
- Work programmes as approved from time to time by the Heritage Council of NSW or its delegate; and
- All other activities provided for in a Conservation Management Plan or other Plan of Management (including amendments) endorsed by the Heritage Council in the future.
Oct 28 2016

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage RegisterResidents for Waverley Cemetery0197528 Oct 16 872878-2879
Heritage Act - Icons Project Nomination for SHR listing  05 Aug 04   
Local Environmental Plan  06 Dec 96   
Register of the National Estate  28 Sep 82   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenConway, Doug2017'Makeovers for two cemetery memorials: Sir Charles Wade's plinth restored; Monumrnt to tragedy of exploding mine'
ElectronicDominic Steele Consulting Archaeology2009Waverley Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Study: Waverly Local Government Area
WrittenDr Anne-Maree Whitaker2008'Australia’s 1798 Irish Memorial', Association for Gravestone Studies Conference, Amherst, Massachusetts
WrittenGoltz, Helen and Adams, Chris2018Grave Tales Sydney - Volume 1 View detail
WrittenHansen, Nick2016'State Heritage listing kills plan for pavilion'
WrittenMarion Mahony Griffin, Walter Burley Griffin, Anne Jeanette Waterson1998Beyond Architecture: Marion Mahony Griffin and Walter Burley Griffin: America, Australia, India
WrittenPenny Mora2015SHR Nomination: Waverley Cemetery
WrittenSmithsonian Institution (Smithsonian.com)2014World’s Most Beautiful Cemeteries View detail
WrittenTaffel, Jacqui2018'Buried Treasure: dedicated couple find priceless underground stories'
WrittenThompson, Sean2016'Coastal route moved from cemetery cliff'
Writtenunattributed2017'At last poetic justice'
ElectronicWaverley Council2008Waverley Cemetery Plan of Management (Volumes 1 & 2)
ElectronicWaverley Council2007Waverley Council: Waverley Heritage Policy

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5050820
File number: EF14/13572; H04/91/10,


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