Doors Open Days

at Grange Cemetery, Beaufort Road EH9 1TT

Sat 25 & Sun 26 September 2021

The Grange Association will be taking part in the Doors Open Days events over the last weekend of this month on Saturday September 25, 13:00-17:00, and Sunday September 26, 11:00-17:00.

Grange Cemetery is always open but, over this weekend, volunteers will be around to tell visitors about some of the work going on. There will be a Gravestone Walk with information posters, a Tree Trail, a War Graves walk, and, if you visit on Sunday morning, you may see some of the Community Payback Order participants restoring smaller fallen stones.

For regular visitors to the Cemetery, you will know that the Council has been keeping the grass well under control this year. In addition, some work has been done by volunteers, coordinated by Sue Tritton and with tools supplied by the Council, removing saplings and invasive weeds growing around gravestones. If left unchecked these can cause damage to the monuments,
even dislodging them.

Tree Trail

Although not an unusual or spectacular collection, the trees in the Cemetery add a great deal to the general ambience and attract many birds and insects. There will be a Tree Trail for visitors to identify and learn about some of the more interesting specimens in the grounds. You can read more about this in Peter Pitkin’s article on page 9 of our September 2021 newsletter , or by opening the leaflet opposite.

Gravestone Walk

Our leaflets, Some Notable Burials and More Notable Burials will be available in their usual holders at the East and West Gates.

But there will also be posters placed by 21 gravestones in the Cemetery (some mentioned in the two booklets and some new ones) and a map to guide you to them.

The posters will give information on the biography, background and importance of the various “inhabitants” of the graves, researched by Pat Storey and Jenny Dawe. See the Grave Walk Marker Notes for a sampler of what you might discover.

War Graves

Initiated by a Grange Association member, Frank Donald, a booklet has been prepared that identifies 22 stones commemorating deceased servicemen.

Ten are official war graves, the others are family memorial stones.

These graves lie around the perimeter of the Cemetery, so make for an easy stroll.

Restoration of monuments

Many headstones have fallen or been laid flat for safety. Since 2016, over 225 headstones have been rebuilt in Grange Cemetery. Smaller headstones are reinstated by Community Payback Order workers, as part of Alan McKinney’s Southside Graveyard Project.

Larger stones require professional restoration by stonemasons financed by the Grange Association. See how to support this work at the “Donate to support our work” tile on our Cemetery page.

LeafletGraveRestoration p2 image

Please come along. If you haven’t already seen some of the work being done to make the Cemetery an even more interesting place to visit, then please come along on one of the Doors Open Days. We expect Butterflies Café in the Marchmont St Giles church hall to be open, round the corner from the Cemetery in Kilgraston Road, as will some other local cafés, so you can enjoy the event even more.

If you want more information or would like to help, please contact us at cemetery@grangeassociation.com

Preview by Rev Karen Campbell: Note that not all the graves mentioned in this video are included in the 21 monuments listed in the Grave Walk now compiled for the Doors Open Days – but you are welcome to try to find them yourself!

Grave Walk Marker Notes

Jenny Dawe and Pat Storey have chosen 21 monuments to highlight on Doors Open Days at Grange Cemetery. It could have been more, or less, but that’s the number that fit on a board of Corex for printing!

In deciding who to include, we tried to choose reasonably accessible stones that would avoid steps and keep mainly to paths. We included some for whom research had already been undertaken for Some Notable Burials, though we have added extra interesting material, others that had not been researched in any detail and a “wild card” that tells the story of the restoration of a family monument. It has proved an arduous but really interesting journey into the lives of a wide variety of people – from Ministers to murderers, military men to musicians, architects to authors, supporters of Hearts and of Hibs, and two tragedies – a Titanic victim and an “African slave boy”.

Included in the walk is Colonel Sir George McCrae (1860-1928), a sad omission from the first booklet, he made an appearance in More Notable Burials. Seek him out and you will learn of a man with an unfortunate start in life who, by sheer determination, became a successful businessman, a Town Councillor, an MP and a senior public servant. But he is best known as the founder of “McCrae’s Battalion” in 1914, a volunteer force whose bravery and many losses are commemorated by a memorial cairn in France.

Further south, find Christian Isobel Johnstone (1781-1857), a remarkable person, the first woman to be paid editor of a Victorian periodical, and author of popular fiction and non-fiction books and many contributions to magazines.

A surprise, perhaps, is that Thomas Dick Lauder (1784-1848), owner of the Grange Estate, was much more than just a wealthy landowner. He wrote learned papers on scientific matters, was author of novels and stories, and an accomplished artist.

The most recent stone noted is that for Aileen Francis Paterson (1934-2018) in the Cemetery extension to the west. An artist from childhood and by training, she is the creator of the wonderful Maisie books.

Perhaps the saddest tale is that behind the simple words on a small stone on the ground: Tom an African slave boy, died at Edinburgh April 19th 1884 aged 13. Redeemed with the precious blood of Christ. Erected by children of Rosehall U. P. Church. Tom (born c. 1871) was rescued from slavery and brought from the Congo to Scotland by a missionary. The young boy died of bleeding from a stomach ulcer. Still a mystery is the connection with Rosehall United Presbyterian Church. Perhaps a Doors Open visitor may be able to tell us?

Another worthy of note is David Masson (1822-1907) who gave up training for the ministry for a literary career, becoming Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature at Edinburgh University. An active supporter of education for women, the University’s first hall of residence for female students was named after him.

If murder is more your scene, then visit the grave of Michael Taylor (1793-1867) where also lie his wife and daughter, poisoned by Dr Edward Pritchard. Read the story of the murders and a little bit about another murder victim elsewhere in the Cemetery.

There are many more stories that can be found and you may have some to tell us.

We look forward to welcoming you to Grange Cemetery on the last Saturday and Sunday of this month.

Jenny Dawe