Tamil Nadu

British era cemetery in state of neglect

The 132-year-old cemetery in Peramanur, Salem, is in a deplorable condition.- PHOTO: E . LAKSHMI NARAYANAN

The 132-year-old cemetery in Peramanur, Salem, is in a deplorable condition.- PHOTO: E . LAKSHMI NARAYANAN

The 132-year-old British era cemetery in Peramanur in the city is in a deplorable state. Attached to the Christ Church in Fort, near the District Collectorate, the cemetery was in use from 1883 to 1953, after which it was closed for burials due to space crunch.

During the British rule in erstwhile Salem District, the Old Anglican Cemetery was used for burying British officials and nationals.

After the cemetery became full, Queen Victoria ordered the then Salem Municipality to allot land in Peramanur for burial. The graveyard was in use for 70 years until it was closed down in 1953.

There are more than 400 graves including that of K.T. Paul, the first Indian born National General Secretary of the National Council of YMCAs of India; J.C. Pichards, the then Salem City Committee Commissioner; P. Sundaram, Principal of the then London Mission High School and Union High School (currently CSI Boys Higher Secondary School at Hasthampatti), and A.J. Alexander Arbuthnot, founder of Anglo-Vernacular School (currently the Government Arts College at Maravaneri) in 1857.

The cemetery remains in a state of neglect as the church and the local administration say that they do not have enough funds to maintain the two-acre premises.

Poor maintenance

Dumping of garbage, functioning of shops on the premises and poor maintenance pose a threat to the cemetery, says J. Barnabas, General Secretary of Salem Historical Society.

“The place is used for anti-social activities. Recently the city police raided the cemetery to curb such activities’, he says.

The general secretary wanted all the four British cemeteries in the district, 224-year-old Anglican Cemetery opposite the District Collectorate, 220-year-old cemetery at the foothills of Sankari Fort, 162-year-old Holy Trinity Church and Cemetery at Yercaud and the 132-year-old cemetery at Peramanur to be maintained properly.

“Maintenance works should be done before the All Souls’ Day on November 2,” Mr. Barnabas adds.


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Printable version | May 25, 2022 10:43:56 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/british-era-cemetery-in-state-of-neglect/article7807885.ece