St David's Park Monuments Conservation Management Plan

Project Background

The City of Hobart recently commissioned a Conservation Management Plan for the historic headstones and monuments located in St David’s Park. The report outlines the cultural significance of these items and examines issues regarding their physical condition. The report establishes policies for the ongoing care and management of the headstones and monuments.

St David’s Park was Hobart’s first public cemetery, with initial interments occurring in 1804, within a few months of the arrival of British colonists. The cemetery continued to be used for new burials until the establishment of Cornelian Bay Public Cemetery in 1872. The cemetery was converted into a park in 1926, resulting in the removal of most of the grave monuments and headstones. Many headstones were salvaged and stored haphazardly around the perimeter of the park, but in the 1970s an effort was made to preserve these headstones within a series of memorial walls, constructed in the eastern corner of the park next to the newly-built Supreme Court complex.

Most of the surviving headstones are sandstone, which is a relatively soft material, susceptible to the ravages of wind and rain. The finely carved lettering and ornamentation on the nineteenth century headstones is gradually becoming illegible, and in some instances has disappeared altogether.

The headstones are physical reminders of Hobart’s early colonial history and represent some of the earliest funerary artefacts in Australia. This significance, combined with the precarious physical condition of the stones, poses important philosophical questions about their future. Should they be removed and placed in a museum; should a new building be constructed over the existing walls in an attempt to halt further decay?

The draft Conservation Management Plan, which was prepared with informed input from key stakeholders has concluded that the headstones should not be moved from St David’s Park, as they are important in understanding the history of the park, and are located within their general historical context. The document also warns against trying to re-cut or touch-up the lettering, accepting the patina and gradual weathering of the stones as a product of time. The report outlines a number of measures for monitoring and stabilising the headstones within the existing memorial walls – with the general principle of inhibiting or at least slowing the inevitable process of decay.

Stakeholder Engagement

In April 2019 the City of Hobart held a workshop with key stakeholders and heritage experts in order prepare a strategy for the conservation of the St David's Park monuments. The outcomes of this workshop helped shape the Draft Conservation Management Plan.

During November 2020 the City will be engaging further with key stakeholders who participated in the previous workshop. The outcomes of this engagement will help to finalise the Conservation Management Plan. Stakeholders will be contacted directly by the project team.

Project Background

The City of Hobart recently commissioned a Conservation Management Plan for the historic headstones and monuments located in St David’s Park. The report outlines the cultural significance of these items and examines issues regarding their physical condition. The report establishes policies for the ongoing care and management of the headstones and monuments.

St David’s Park was Hobart’s first public cemetery, with initial interments occurring in 1804, within a few months of the arrival of British colonists. The cemetery continued to be used for new burials until the establishment of Cornelian Bay Public Cemetery in 1872. The cemetery was converted into a park in 1926, resulting in the removal of most of the grave monuments and headstones. Many headstones were salvaged and stored haphazardly around the perimeter of the park, but in the 1970s an effort was made to preserve these headstones within a series of memorial walls, constructed in the eastern corner of the park next to the newly-built Supreme Court complex.

Most of the surviving headstones are sandstone, which is a relatively soft material, susceptible to the ravages of wind and rain. The finely carved lettering and ornamentation on the nineteenth century headstones is gradually becoming illegible, and in some instances has disappeared altogether.

The headstones are physical reminders of Hobart’s early colonial history and represent some of the earliest funerary artefacts in Australia. This significance, combined with the precarious physical condition of the stones, poses important philosophical questions about their future. Should they be removed and placed in a museum; should a new building be constructed over the existing walls in an attempt to halt further decay?

The draft Conservation Management Plan, which was prepared with informed input from key stakeholders has concluded that the headstones should not be moved from St David’s Park, as they are important in understanding the history of the park, and are located within their general historical context. The document also warns against trying to re-cut or touch-up the lettering, accepting the patina and gradual weathering of the stones as a product of time. The report outlines a number of measures for monitoring and stabilising the headstones within the existing memorial walls – with the general principle of inhibiting or at least slowing the inevitable process of decay.

Stakeholder Engagement

In April 2019 the City of Hobart held a workshop with key stakeholders and heritage experts in order prepare a strategy for the conservation of the St David's Park monuments. The outcomes of this workshop helped shape the Draft Conservation Management Plan.

During November 2020 the City will be engaging further with key stakeholders who participated in the previous workshop. The outcomes of this engagement will help to finalise the Conservation Management Plan. Stakeholders will be contacted directly by the project team.

Page last updated: 06 Nov 2020, 04:20 PM