St Mary’s Rest Garden is a small park next to Victoria Park and the Victoria Swimming Baths in Nottingham. Formally a cemetery, a Quaker by the name of Samuel Fox donated the land after an outbreak of cholera in 1835.
The size of the land gradually decreased, especially in 1906 when the road nearby was widened and the bodies that were disturbed were then moved and re-interred, with their headstones being propped up along the back wall as you can see above and below.
The reason I’d gone to this park in the first place was to photograph the tomb of the most famous person buried there, William Thompson, known as Bendigo.
Born in 1811 he had a rough start in life, raised in the Nottingham slums, before becoming a prize fighter, regularly attracting crowds of 10,000. Arthur Conan Doyle was apparently a fan, writing a verse to him called Bendy’s Sermon that can be read here.
After he retired he became something of a drunk and spent time in prison. Eventually he became interested in religion and became a preacher, attracting the same kind of crowds that he did as a fighter until his death in 1880.
One other bit of interesting history on the site is this tower which a nearby plaque refers to as the “curious little brick tower”. Probably originally an access tunnel it then become a ventilation shaft, allowing foul air to be carried up the shaft and out the top.
You can find more of my photos, including views of Nottingham as seen from the gardens, here.
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