New Zealand has many lost or hidden cemeteries. We’re going to see which ones we can find.
Bridge St Cemetery, Lower Hutt.
It’s a tiny peaceful little spot. On the corner of Lower Hutt’s Bridge St and Marsden Street is the remains of a cemetery.
Through a little gate into a tree-covered yard with pretty flowers and a few notable
memorials, the Wesleyan (or Methodist) Cemetery seems like you are stepping out of a city into a place out of time.
While it is still maintained, some graves have been lost to road widening - with a memorial stone now naming those whose final resting place has been disturbed.
There are 51 graves recorded there but it is likely there are more than 100.
Of the few headstones that remain there are the names of families that were instrumental in the founding and development of Lower Hutt, the Sanson family, Frethey family, the Knights and William Bassett, shoemarker of Petone and his wife Mary, along with a poignant memorial to Thomas “William” Webb, a private with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force army who died at sea on board the troopship Mokoia on December 21, 1917 at the age of 27 headed for Europe, however he never saw battle. He died of illness aboard ship.
He is also on the memorial at Karori Cemetery.
The Knights, William and Mary Ann and their five oldest children were some of the first settlers in Petone arriving on the Duke of Roxburgh in 1840 from Cornwall.
Son James Penrose Knight was a borough councillor and his son Willoughby was deputy mayor.
If the names are familiar to those from Lower Hutt its because there are a number of street named for them, Penrose St, Knights Road, Willougby St and Frethey Grove.
The little cemetery, still cared for by Hutt City Council, is all that remains of the original Wesleyan church on the banks of the Hutt River established in 1845 and stood nearby for only a few years before moving to Laings Road.
There are drawings of the original church in the Alexander Turnbull Library done by Marion Swainson.
Do you know of one of these ‘hidden’ cemeteries?