17 Nov, 2021 - Natasha West
Walk back in time to when gravediggers were cloaked in mystery because of the lonely nature of their work. It was in buildings like this that you’d find a gravedigger to hire to help you bury a loved one. Each religion would have their own group of gravediggers.
This pavilion was built in the 1900s and is attributed to John Bursham Clamp – it was built as a rest hour for gravediggers, funeral directors and hearse drivers. The hut is an octagonal timber building with a corrugated iron roof. The four pine trees surrounding the hut are part of the heritage value of the New Anglican section of the cemetery.
Gravediggers from this time were also called ‘sextons’ or ‘sextants’. A sexton was an officer of the church or synagogue who was responsible for the maintenance, which included the graveyard. You can find an example of this in Shakespeare’s Hamlet where the gravedigger says, “I have been sexton here, man and boy, thirty years.”
The hut was renovated in 2019 with funding from The Heritage Council, Friends of Rookwood & Rookwood General Cemetery. An information board is found on the western side and it is recommended you take a short walk to admire the building from a distance.