Thursday 13th November
Plodding along on site … flocks of kites hovering and swooping down upon us throughout the morning; overcast for much of the day providing slight relief; our resident pack of 5 feral dogs sprawled out beneath the franjipani in the late afternoon sun; a crow munching upon a bat …. some drug use evident at the nether regions of the site – well avoided. Clare harrassed by children – repeating ‘Halooo, halooo, halooo, halooo…. ‘ for hours on end.
Seeking out some of the more interesting personalities within the wider cemetery – a Glasgow iron master named Boyle, the Director of the Calcutta Zoological Gardens, officers of the Honourable Company, The Rev. John Adam ‘late Missionary to the heathen …’, umpteen jute mill staff, etc, etc.
With the detailed recording of graves in our chosen quadrant of the cemetery going steadily but slowly, a more tageted approach to recording the area was decided upon – detailed grave recording forms will be completed for about half the quadrant; all artistically or historically significant graves will be recorded by formal photograph; all others will be covered by a general photographic database of images; the evoultion of wider cemetery is being examined – with rapid expansions of the original 1820s-40s cemetery to the S (1850s-60’s), and, withthese areas becoming increasingly overcrowded by the 1860s, to the E – the latter in sccessive stages, taking in new land as required. The intensive use continued to the mid 20th century, with only occasional burials thereafter….. squeezed into any available space.
James’ gift of flower garlands to Rajpal, our Sikh driver, in celebtration of the birthday of the first Sikh guru, Guru Nanak – were received with embarrassment – perhaps a little too forward on James’ part … !
While the team was working in the hot sun, making steady progress with the recording, James skived off to do other things! In the morning he met the Director of the Botanical Survey of India at the Calcutta Botanic Garden on the far side of the Hooghly River. The purpose was to see the garden buildings, particularly the house built for William Roxburgh, first paid Superintendent of the Garden in about 1790. Remarkably, though empty for twenty years and in a state of gentle decay, this wonderful late Georgian villa, whose bowed first floor veranda has spectacular views of the shipping on the river, is essentially intact. James afternoon visit was to meet the Bishop of Calcutta and elders of the church established by Alexander Duff in the 1830s, along with the Scottish Church College, still regarded as one of the two best colleges of the University of Calcutta.