On Sunday March 25th a group of members enjoyed a casual lunch at the Sussex Hotel in Walkerville. Heather Wright, the Mayor of Walkerville, and her husband George joined us for lunch as they were our hosts at their National Trust listed home ‘Roseneath’ which we were to visit later in the day for a tour.
After a most enjoyable lunch some members set out on foot with Heather leading the way and other members travelled by car to the Walkerville Wesleyan Cemetery. The cemetery was opened on 8th May 1849 by the Trustees of the Wesleyan and Methodist Society in Smith Street. It is maintained by the ‘Friends of the Walkerville Cemetery” and is a credit to them as it is beautifully maintained.
Heather, as a member of the ‘Friends,’ was our guide and gave us an informative tour of some of the graves in the cemetery that she thought told a story of interest. She showed us early settlers’ graves and many that told of heartache where there were several children buried together in the same family grave who had died in their early months and years.
There is the grave of Mary Lee, South Australian Women’s Rights Activist who, in 1894 when she was 73, was influential in gaining the right for South Australian women to vote on equal terms with men, the right to a postal vote and the right to stand for Parliament. SA women were the second in the world to gain the right to vote, and first in the world to achieve all these rights. On her 75th birthday celebrations at the Adelaide Town Hall, Mary was awarded fifty sovereigns for her efforts to bring about women’s suffrage. A bronze bust of Mary Lee was erected in the Prince Henry Gardens on North Terrace in 1994.
Heather told us a interesting story of a stolen headstone of two young children in the Jefferson family. John, born in 1858 and died 2 days old, and John Alfred, born 1860 died in 1863 just 3years old. Their headstone was missing for many years until the Police carried out a drug raid on the Yorke Peninsula where it was found on the premises. Following some research the headstone was found to belong in the Walkerville Wesleyan Cemetery and it was re-instated and blessed by Rev. Jim Winn at a ceremony arranged by the Friends of the Wesleyan Cemetery in 2001.
The last burial at the Walkerville Wesleyan Cemetery was in May 1973 and it was then closed after 124 years. However in 2004, the cemetery was re-opened by the Walkerville Council for inurnment of ashes, with specific guidelines to maintain its pre-Federation ambience. An area has been set aside for new leases.
At the conclusion of the cemetery tour we made our way to ‘Roseneath which is on the South Australian Heritage Register and is in Cluny Avenue, Walkerville. On our arrival at ‘Roseneath’ we were welcomed by Heather and given the history of the house.
The two-story house, built mostly of brick with a slate-roof was completed in 1849 for James Wyld MacDonald, an official at the Burra Mines. In its early days, olive trees and rows of vines surrounded the house and an avenue of almond trees led from the gates to the front door. The limestone cottage, stables and coach-house were built at the rear of the house and it is understood that the cottage would have been used by the servants. A brick lined tunnel leads from the cottage to the house.
At the end of Heather’s talk she invited us all to wander through the house and to travel through the tunnel to the cottage. A most interesting home. To finish our day, afternoon tea supplied by Council PASA members was held in the courtyard between the main house and the cottage. It was enjoyed by all and allowed time to chat to others of our lovely day.
Many thanks to the organisers and co-ordinators of the day. As new members, my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting other members and visiting these places of great interest.