Friends of St Alfege Park’s Chair apologises for damage to gravestones

October 4, 2011 by  

St AlfegeS

The Chair of the Friends of St Alfege Park, Tim Delap, has made his first comments since the controversy broke over the damage to headstones.

In the statement, the Chair says he "deeply regrets" the damage caused and goes on to say that the Friends are now "reorganising their... management processes".

Tim Delap's statement is below:

As Chair person of the Friends of St Alfege Park, I deeply regret and apologise personally and on behalf of the Friends for the damage caused to gravestones in St Alfege Park during work carried out at our request for our community garden project. The Friends are now urgently reorganising their work and management processes to ensure that we safeguard the infrastructure of the Park, including the memorials, in all our future activities.

Comments

70 Responses to “Friends of St Alfege Park’s Chair apologises for damage to gravestones”

  1. scared of chives on October 4th, 2011 3:43 pm

    That’s a FULL statement…?

    How did it happen?

    lucy lu Reply:

    This man is a complete prat and so are all his “friends”. Let’s all go and trash his house!

  2. Dave SE10 on October 4th, 2011 4:58 pm

    He deeply regrets and apologises for what happened….. so that makes everything okay then? Who was in charge and why wasn’t the work properly supervised?

    What a pathetic response.

  3. tallyman on October 4th, 2011 7:07 pm

    what now?
    will the headstones be repaired?
    or will the “friends” carry on regardless with their vegetable patch?
    a memorial was suggested,which is exactly what the park was before the friends interfered,a memorial park.
    we need answers

  4. NJ Wicken on October 4th, 2011 9:05 pm

    This statement appears to confirm what has been theorised on the internet and privately, that Mr Delap himself ordered the community payback team to remove all the memorials before he went on holiday.

    This was without the consent of either Greenwich Council, the vicar of St Alfege Church, or even the other Friends who he is supposed to represent. What shameful behaviour.

    How on earth Mr Delap thinks he can continue as a member of the Friends after this shocking turn of events, let alone remain as Chair, is beyond comprehension.

    I am also angered by his comment ‘The Friends are now urgently reorganising their work and management processes to ensure that we safeguard the infrastructure of the Park, including the memorials, in all our future activities.’

    The protection of the monuments and the park in general was recorded three years ago in the 2008 park management plan for St Alfege Park (available at http://www.greenwich.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/19DA41DE-1399-4464-AE69-D63AD9AD031A/0/StAlfegeParkdoc.pdf).

    This plan states the following information regarding the monuments:

    ‘The maintenance of monuments is the responsibility of Greenwich Council. The council is required by section 215 of the Local Government Act 1972 to ensure that the monuments remain in a safe condition… The church and the tombstones in the park attract many tourists interested in the history of the church and the memorial monuments.’

    Are we supposed to be grateful that the Chair of the Friends is NOW making monument preservation a priority? Unbelievable.

    What I would like to know is exactly how many monuments the Friends have removed from their original positions in the park?

    If you look at the section of wall next to the destroyed area you will find the greenhouse and vegetable beds as installed by the Friends. You will also see the ghost outlines of now-vanished tomb stones all along that wall too. Were these also removed by the Friends so they could grow carrots and potatoes? The council workers in the park believe they were, so further answers are required.

    What now needs to be addressed is what action Greenwich Council shall be taking. It would be outrageous if, given the historic nature of the monuments destroyed, that there were no consequences.

    I have seen that the three ward councillors for the area, Greenwich West ward, will be having their weekly surgery this Friday from 7 – 8pm at West Greenwich House, 141 Greenwich High Road, SE10. The ward councillors are David Grant, Maureen O’Mara and Matthew Pennycook and details of this meeting can be found here: http://committees.greenwich.gov.uk/mgUserInfo.aspx?UID=145

    I would suggest that anyone concerned about the future of the park and this terrible event attend and ask the councillors directly what they will be doing regarding the unauthorised removal of monuments, contrary to section 215 of the Local Government Act 1972.

    Cllr Grant is also the Deputy Mayor of Greenwich and happens to live just a couple of doors away from the Chair of the Friends, Tim Delap. He is therefore perhaps more connected than anyone to ensure further action is taken regarding this situation.

    If you are unable to attend this meeting then you can always contact the councillors using the details given on their council webpages below:
    http://www.greenwich.gov.uk/Greenwich/YourCouncil/YourRepresentatives/Councillors/DavidGrant.htm
    http://www.greenwich.gov.uk/Greenwich/YourCouncil/YourRepresentatives/Councillors/MaureenOMara.htm
    http://www.greenwich.gov.uk/Greenwich/YourCouncil/YourRepresentatives/Councillors/Matthew-Pennycook.htm

  5. John Fahy on October 5th, 2011 10:39 am

    I have instructed Officers of the Council to stop all work in the Park. The priority all concerned is to sort out this tragic event. a professional stonemason is visiting the Park today to consider options.

    The Chair of the Friends needs to consider his position urgently.

    Indigo Reply:

    Councillor Fahy needs to wind his neck in. Since when did local councillors take to the web to call for resignations of Council Tax payers/volunteers? Councillor Fahy is pissing in the well of volunteers. Why would you volunteer for anything when, if you screw up, Greenwich councillors will lose no time in crucifying you by name on the Internet?

    Tim Delap and his wider family have been Greenwich residents for DECADES, paying rates/Community Charge/Council Tax like everyone else, performing a thousand small kindnesses for others without any expectation of reward or acknowledgement, generally doing their bit to make Greenwich a nicer place for everyone. Tim has spent YEAR and countless hours of his own time negotiating with Greenwich Council about St Alfege Park. But for Tim, there would be no Friends of St Alfege Park. And before Tim set up the Friends of St Alfege Park, Greenwich Council was doing almost zip about looking after the Park.

    I don’t know what happened but Councillor Fahy should stay away from making character-assassinations on the web, as he evidently doesn’t know how the Internet works.

    Indigo Reply:

    That should be YEARS, not YEAR. Going back to at least the year 2000.

    Indigo Reply:

    Oh, yes, and before he retired, Tim was a self-employed local businessman who CREATED JOBS and helped a great many young people get work-experience.

    Just the sort of person to whom Greenwich Council should always be grateful and, even in the event that something goes badly wrong, not pillory on the Internet. But Councillor Fahy doesn’t want you to remember Tim as job-creator and all-round good egg, he wants to use the web to make people associate Tim only with this. Whatever this is.

    Catherine Grove Reply:

    Agree with Indigo on the point about Cllr Fahy’s post above. His last sentence, in which he calls for the Chair of the Friend’s of St Alfege Park to consider his continuation in that role, is inappropriate for this medium and to my mind quite unprofessional. It almost seems as if matters between Fahy and the Chair have become so stressed that it’s all become fraught and personal. If the Cllr was expressing a personal opinion it should have been clearly stated as such and not tied in with statements of what actions he has taken in his official capacity.

    As for Mr Delap’s statement on behalf of the Friend’s. I’m glad that there has been a statement from the Chair, but disappointed it was short on detail.

    In response to the previous Friend’s statement I said the following:

    “Absent a proven refutation or acceptable justification (by the Chairman after he returns) I believe a “moving forward” can only happen in the community after, at a minimum, the council requires the Friends to be more accountable to them in all their future decisions and whomever made the mistake of giving the instruction to destroy the headstones apologises and no longer holds a position where they can damage the credibility of the Friends as caretakers of St Alfege Park again.”

    In light of Mr Delap’s statement, there has been no refutation of the council spokesperson’s claim that the Friend’s “instructed” the destruction of the headstones (so it seems they did) and nor has there been an attempt to justify the direction (so it seems they can’t). Indeed Mr Delap apologised on behalf of the organisation and personally. I accept both and thank him for doing so. Mistakes happen and I am sure this is all it was.

    But mistakes have consequences and organisations need to be accountable for their actions. I am glad to learn in the statement that the Friends are “urgently reorganising their work and management practices”. I urge that the new practices prohibit any single member of the Friends being able to take unilateral action (as seems to have happened in this case). I also urge that the Council who has ultimate responsibility for what happens in St Alfege Park, ensures they approve all important decisions in the future so that should there be a next time, the community’s wrath is properly directed at our elected representatives rather than a group of volunteers.

    Then when the new management practices are in place, Greenwich residents are reassured that such a lapse cannot recur and before work recommences, I would further urge the Friend’s to consider whether in the eyes of the community the credibility of the organisation as the caretaker of the park can be fully restored if their current Chair, who seems to have personally issued the instructions to destroy the headstones without committee approval, continue in his role. It is my opinion that he cannot, but ultimately the decision whether Mr Delap stands down or not is one for Mr Delap and the Friend’s to make.

    I wish both Tim and the Friend’s well, hope they deal with matters quickly and put it behind them so all concerned can continue to do great work in the community with the support of the community.

    Geoff Neilly Reply:

    Well said Indigo.

    tallyman Reply:

    work experience? free labour more like!

    Chiper Reply:

    This doesn’t sanction or exempt Delap from the sacrilage caused by removing these stones. I hope he’s good at jigsaws as he should be re-assembling these memorials and putting them back where they belong at his expense. I only hope that someone had transcribed the inscriptions on the stones.

    James Toone Reply:

    ‘Wind his neck in!’ With ‘Friends’ like this, St Alphege doesn’t need enemies!

    For more than four decades, during which I have been involved in family history research and recording, I have been up against the appalling indifference of those intellectually myopic individuals whose miniscule bailiwicks seem to endow them with a ‘the world tomorrow’ complex. Clearly Mr Timothy Delap has absolutely no idea what he has overseen – or, if he did not know what was happening and did not oversee it, then, given his position of responsibility, he is totally incompetent and should offer his immediate resignation.

    Anyone with half a brain would know that carrots and cabbages are far more important than the heritage of our country. Of course it was absolutely right to destroy history, desecrate a religious site and trash the beauty of quiet contemplation that a well maintained churchyard can give. Oh, but I am being sarcastic!! How, defender of the indefensible, in the name of history and culture, does paying your taxes have anything to do with it!? Is it a case, once again, of knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing?

    If those responsible for ordering this unbelievable act of vandalism were teenagers, no doubt Mr Delap and his ilk would be baying for blood and the return of the cat, rack and, no doubt, executions at Tower Hill! I can but hope that some restoration of the site and the stones can be carried out and the entire body of those charged with protection of the site called to account, not by ‘learning lessons’ – that is for the rhubarb patch – but by being prosecuted under whatever legal sanctions are appropriate.

    At the very least they should be named and shamed, with their mugshots plastered over the internet.

  6. James on October 5th, 2011 11:06 am

    A relatively short statement which seems to leave questions unanswered. And the problem now is that with unanswered questions there will always be rumour.

    If the conjecture is true that Tim Delap single handedly ordered the destruction of these headstones to install a community garden, then unfortunately I do not see how he can remain as the Chair of this organisation.

    And it is unfortunate as he has almost undoubtedly completed good work elsewhere in this voluntary position.

  7. Helen Neilly on October 5th, 2011 12:20 pm

    I do think that someone who volunteers so much to help our local community would deliberately encourage destruction of the same.

    The conjecture and rumours do not stack up. It is too easy to target one person to apportion blame. Take a step back and think about this objectively before so publicly criticising one man.

  8. NJ Wicken on October 5th, 2011 12:46 pm

    @ Helen Neilly, I agree that it seems almost inconceivable that someone who offers their time voluntarily and who is Chair of the Friends would have ordered such destruction.

    However if we look at key excerpts from the statements issued by the London Probation Trust, the Friends before the Chair returned from holiday and finally the statement of the Chair himself, the events do seem to be clear.

    The London Probation Trust, regarding their work in the park, stated:

    ‘Part of this work has included the clearance of stone markers believed to be monumental and/or gravestones as requested by a representative of the Friends of St Alfege Park.’

    Suzanne Miller and Johanna Taylor, Friends of St Alfege Park, made a statement prior to the return from holiday of Chair Mr Delap, which included the following:

    ‘While writing this statement we have been unable to contact the Chair of the Friends group, who had been working with a Community Payback team on a project in that area… In the event, and for reasons we do not know, [the headstones] were all broken up.’

    Mr Delap’s own brief statement, given above, issues no denial of the comments made by the London Probation Trust, yet offers a personal apology.

    With the above taken into account, I think it is fair to say I have thought about this objectively.

  9. The Ancient One on October 5th, 2011 2:50 pm

    All the kings horses and all the kings men couldn’t put Humpty together again.

    Move along please, nothing to see now. Can the broken masonry be stored perhaps in the church crypt in the event they can be used for cosmetic repairs to the church itself, ground up with resin etc, at some future time.

    No point in exacting fines Mr Delap has been publicly humiliated and rightly so in my view.

    The vegetable plot should go ahead with local support even if it is a somewhat sandal wearing, latte quaffing, yoghurt knitting exercise itself an invitation to vandalism, it could be of some token benefit to the wider community.

    If only as modern day folly.

  10. The Ancient One on October 5th, 2011 2:58 pm

    Rider… does history repeat itself?

    When the Danes invaded and slew Bishop Alfege, did they not smash all the gravestones.

  11. Bob Redhead on October 5th, 2011 4:44 pm

    I see the blame culture is alive and well in Greenwich. Lets all get down there and help them out, its happened so lets see what we can do to help them move forward

    NJ Wicken Reply:

    This is not ‘blame culture’, this is about accountability.

    I do however agree that those who have expressed an interest in the park should try and help out wherever possible.

    Perhaps when the Chair stands down and leaves the Friends, which he will surely have to do, the Friends could call a public meeting for support.

    I would certainly attend and I am sure many others would also wish to help the remaining members of the Friends move beyond this dreadful episode.

    Helen Reply:

    @Indigo – Really pleased to see your comments. Inappropriate bias in the reporting/discussions about this incident. Clearly something has gone terribly wrong, but to lay all of the blame at one person’s feet after all of his efforts and endeavours can not be appropriate. Perhaps if half of the people who have now expressed such voracious interest in the park had been helping in the first place…….

    James Reply:

    “Perhaps if half of the people who have now expressed such voracious interest in the park had been helping in the first place…….” – then what exactly?

    Other people are already involved but this was – apparently – the Chair of the organisation making the decision on his own as Suzanne Miller & Johanna Taylor said earlier in the week. So it wouldn’t matter if 10, 20 or 200 people are helping out.

    And I reject the notion that unless you volunteer yourself with a project, your opinion on it is invalid. Everybody’s opinion is valid whether you agree with it or not.

    This is just unfortunate all round because of (a) the damage done and (b) as I’ve already said – this guy has almost certainly completed good work elsewhere.

    Rod Reply:

    This is a very good idea, and the Friends wuld do themselves a lot of good by following this course of action promptly. It seems that few, if any, of the rank and file members were consulted about the destruction, and the innocent Friends need to restore their credibility. Ejecting anyone who was involved in this dreadful decision and holding a public meeting is the only way forward for the Friends.

  12. Paul on October 5th, 2011 8:27 pm

    Would that Greenwich council were as active in calling for resignations when their own employees mess up!

    As far as I’m aware, Tim Delap’s role is unpaid. The Friends took on a job that no-one else would do.

    I’m upset about the loss of the gravestones but remember, this is no longer a graveyard and they’d already been moved. There are far greater threats to the heritage of Greenwich than this. We would all do well to do our bit, rather than call for the resignation of others from the safety of our armchairs.

  13. tallyman on October 6th, 2011 6:22 am

    who asked tim delap to take over the park?it used to be a nice quiet place for locals to go rather than busy greenwich park,since the friends started their project,thy have made locals feel like you are trespassing into somebodys garden.
    needles and junkies?
    I would never have taken my children to play their if I thought there was any danger,the friends have just made that bit up! if they did find needles they should have phoned the council to dispose of them in proper needle boxes,if the friends want an allotment PUT YOUR NAME ON THE COUNCIL ALLOTMENT LIST AND WAIT 13 YEARS LIKE EVERYONE ELSE!
    if a “junkie” walked off the street with a sledge hammer and smashed these gravestones in a drug induced rage they would surely be banged up,but at least they could have blamed the drugs! instead this was a calculated act,I know which one is worse

    Indigo Reply:

    There are a lot of hoops to be jumped through, if you want to set up a Friends organisation. No one else had shown any interest in doing so.

    tallyman Reply:

    If it ain’t broke………..

  14. tallyman on October 6th, 2011 6:24 am

    ps the councillor is human you know

    Indigo Reply:

    Then he should be humane and show humanity.

    tallyman Reply:

    so should tim delap instead of hiding behind the skirts of the “friends”

  15. James on October 7th, 2011 10:04 am

    Whilst I don’t agree with tallyman’s ‘skirts’ comment I would like to point out that had this been committed by any other individual, a group of kids for example or a drunk – then we would all be up in arms about it. Every single one of us.

    Now I don’t know Tim Delap’s character but I also have no reason to doubt what Indigo has said about it. He setup the ‘Friends’ so he must have good intentions.

    But if its confirmed to be true that he was working autonomously, without the knowledge or consent of the other ‘Friends’ – then surely even his most ardent supporters on this forum cannot think he should remain in his post?

  16. topaz on October 8th, 2011 8:51 pm

    I read all of this with some interest. not because I have family buried in the park, but because this could happen anywhere.

    to those of you who snip that people who care should come and help manage the park, the descendants of those buried are scattered near and far, should those who left England to get away from various miseries of the era pay for a $700.00+ airplane ticket so we can come help?

    for those of you who say, well, the tombstones were damaged/worn/of little matter, if they were your ancestors, would you think such of them?

    it is this type of “small town beaurocracy” with small minded thinking that creates these problems. it takes one act to cure the issues. communicate. with your superiors, with your committee, with the people in the neighborhood. get a concensus. trust me, it isn’t a great idea if you are the only one who knows about it-or just your little group knows about it. it is a pity that someone thought it was a great idea. it had a ripple affect, and I can promise you, it reaches far outside of Greenwich, to America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and possibly many more. this is not some small town that someone threw a rock in someone’s window, this is a place where many people hale back to, where history resonates for them. and you would destroy something that is none of yours to destroy?

    it doesn’t matter who did it, it is enormously wrong that it was even concidered.

    I keep hearing about this or that town that has decided to replace an historic edifice with a parking lot, flats, business offices, etc. and what is left when the historic edifice is gone, and the visitors and tourists along with it? anyone served up the goose that layed the golden eggs? oh, yes you did. and one day, there will be no golden eggs. if I hear one snivel because the eggs are gone I will deride you worse than anyone has to date.

    Veracity Reply:

    Great response and well said Topaz, from one who lives in Australia but whose heart still “belongs”. Perhaps some would say I have no right to comment but each time a little bit more of our visual history disappears so do we.

    I haven’t seen the results of the “Friends” work at the park and, from what I can read, it appears that Mr Delap and his friends have done a lot of good. I guess for me the question is, has he restored and commemorated a memorial and historical meeting place with regard to those who were buried there, and with their dependents in mind, or has he modernised and converted it to a quasi allotment and playground/picnic ground. If the former, then yes, I applaud him. However, if the latter, it would appear that Mr Delap has overstepped his “power” and in his zeal has forgotten the former.

    No amount of previous good works can obliterate what apparently lies at the heart of the final intentions for the park and if Mr Delap is not in tune with his community then he has no right to make his own decisions on its future.

  17. Diane Whitworth on October 9th, 2011 11:57 am

    Though I speak from 12,000 miles away from London I feel an inner deep deep sadness at the wanton destruction of these grave markers/headstones. In fact, I feel I want to shed tears for those who interred their loved ones here in St Alfege in very bygone times believing these markers would remain intact to identify those whom they loved so dearly. One can only imagine how they scraped and saved in long ago times to be able to afford to erect such monuments wrought in stone to their loved ones. Such irreplaceable beauty and history destroyed in a moment of inhuman thoughtlessness. It is truly unbelievable what I have read. Thank you Lostcousins for drawing my attention to it. Diane

  18. Barbara Smith on October 9th, 2011 2:59 pm

    It doesn’t matter how long or hard Mr Delap has worked for the community, he has now done something quite dreadful, almost unforgivable. His only course of action is to get busy repairing or replacing the vandalised headstones. It’s not ‘blame culture’ it’s about accepting responsibility and if you do something thoughtless and ill-considered you should then set about putting it right. Your own fresh vegetables might be nice but not at the expense of the feelings of other people.

  19. Brendan Clarke on October 9th, 2011 5:39 pm

    The police should make a proper investigation of what has happened, as events do seem to be unclear, with a prosecution following if justified by the evidence.

  20. JADon McVeity on October 10th, 2011 2:52 am

    Remove the greenhouse and the vegetable plots. Restore the cemetery. I’d be more interested in hearing what the stonemason’s response was as to what he could do than all this seeking of placement of blame. Seems the culpability has been acknowledged already. Time to put the “gardening” funds to use repairing the damage done

  21. James Castellan on October 10th, 2011 5:28 am

    No one has commented whether these gravestones have been transcribed or not. I hope that they have. If not, no one has mentioned trying to recover as much information as possible from the fragments that remain.

    JADon McVeity Reply:

    An excellent comment and exactly the tone we need to pursue. Damage is done, now what can we salvage out of a horrific mess. Stones are erected so people might be remembered and in a peaceful place which lends itself to such activity. Something can be done and having that information available begins to satisfy that need. I still feel however that those ultimately responsible should make every effort to restore the dignity of these monuments.

  22. Des on October 10th, 2011 10:53 am

    All this on top of other councils leveling graves in cemetaries in London without telling owners or family members or even asking for opinions. Surely there are legal rights and possible claims from said families for all these acts of gross desecration?

  23. Neil Chippendale on October 10th, 2011 10:57 pm

    Sorry but the fact that the Chair of St Alfege Park has lived and worked in the area for a number of years doesn’t matter. He was/is in charge of the project and should go. If an MP/Cllr was involved in something like this the public would cry out for a resignation.

    His statement is also a disgrace. he is trying to fob off the whole saga.

  24. John Greenwood on October 11th, 2011 10:46 am

    Obviously someone ‘at the top’ had the autority to get this work done, but how many middle people just went along with it? If someone in a yellow Hi-Viz jacket came up to you and said ‘smash all those gravestones up’ would you actually do it, or atleast not question it first? I thought almost everyone would have had some respect for gravestones!

    Even if the removal order was valid, why smash the stones to bits? They could have been removed and recycled into other walls or footpaths within the site.

    As a researcher, I hope they have kept photos and atleast transcriptions of all the markers destroyed – and make them freely avaialble – now that the public can no longer visit them.

  25. Paul on October 11th, 2011 11:33 am

    Not sure if it is still a valid email address but you should really be asking Tim Delap directly. I certainly will be:

    tim.delap@teslaeurope.com

  26. ian on the hill on October 11th, 2011 12:11 pm

    One more time: who decided to break them up?
    If Tim ordered it then we should know, If he ordered a temporary move and the work team decided to break them up then we want a reply from the probation service. How did they supervise? Was this a deliberate criminal act by the offenders on the work party?

  27. tallyman on October 12th, 2011 7:41 am

    notice the bricks in the photos,was one of the larger “tombs” smashed as well?

  28. NJ Wicken on October 13th, 2011 10:05 pm

    The story has has this week been published in ‘Private Eye’ (14th-27th October 2011 no. 1299, Nooks and Corners page 14).

  29. Rod on October 14th, 2011 8:30 am

    Clearly, this issue isn’t going to just go away. If Mr Delap thought that his curt little statement was going to satisfy anybody, events have proved him wrong. It is in his own best interests to explain fully and publicly exactly what happened, and the sooner the better.
    I also think that the Council should make a statement regarding what is going to happen with the broken gravestones, which hawe now been removed. Furthermore, an act of criminal damage has taken place, and I think we need to be told what the consequences of this are going to be. If there are going to be no consequences, then some named person in authority has to say so and explain why. As has been quite rightly said, if this had been done by vandals everyone would be up in arms, and the Police would have been involved by now.
    It is totally irrelevant to say that the Friends have acheived some good things in the park – this destruction does not seem to be the actions of the friends as a body, but rather the act of a single individual acting way beyond his authority.

  30. Pete on October 14th, 2011 11:43 am

    It’s also in today’s Evening Standard.

  31. Pamela on October 17th, 2011 12:47 pm

    Was there any kind of meeting before the damage was done?

    It seems likely there was not otherwise it wouldn’t have been such a surprise to everyone. The wanton destruction of the tombstones is inexcusable. I hope this chair of the friends is soon kicked out of his job. As for the Friends they should stop being anyones Friend before more damage is done.

    This statement was so short and disappointing considering the damage to the cemetery/park. A lot more needed to be said. I think they were surprised by the uproar by the True Friends of St. Alfege ‘s

  32. topaz on October 30th, 2011 7:16 pm

    is this just going to die away, with no resolution? it’s been 2 weeks since anyone posted anything. no word from Ted? the Council? the probation officers? the stone cutters? has everyone forgot?

  33. Jadon on November 3rd, 2011 2:42 pm

    I keep waiting to see if someone will respond to the comment of “topaz”, “Is this just going to die away, with no resolution?”

    Sadly, unless there is dialogue that I am not aware of this will all be “swept under the carpet” Personally, I still feel very strongly that these so-called “Friends of St Alfege Park” should be held accountable for the vandalism they ordered and be held to restitution in the form of restoration. That and they can stick their veggies where the dun doesn’t shine.

    So wrong if this just falls by the wayside as it only further opens the way to other similar irresponsible actions.

    Rob Powell Reply:

    Hi Jadon – I’ve continued to ask questions on this and I’m hopeful that there will be more to say on it soon.

    Jadon Reply:

    Rob, Thanks for the encouraging words. Feels good to find that after all the dust has settled, someone such as yourself still cares and is finding a way to be heard. This one has particularly gotten under my skin. If ever I can help in any way, please do not hesitate.. Jadon

    Rod Reply:

    Seconded – and please see my post below.

  34. Veracity on November 5th, 2011 11:20 pm

    I imagine there are quite a few of us wondering if this will all be kicked under the proverbial mat and I, for one, am grateful to Rob and Jadon for continuing to follow up on this. I am in Australia but, as one who had an ancestor buried at St Alfrege I am keen to see a PROPER resolution to the issue. Hopefully that will include the resignation of Tim Delop from any future responsibility for action at St Alfrege. As efficient as he may have been in the past, this is not his own personal back yard that he has desecrated and his action is not to be condoned under any circumstances.

    Rod Reply:

    There has got to be proper resolution of this dreadful action – we need to keep on asking the relevant people what is happening, where is this going etc, but please see my post below. The Council are now investigating the incident, and hopefully we will soon know exactly what happened.

  35. Rod on November 6th, 2011 11:09 am

    I have discovered that Greenwich are taking the St Alfege’s Park tombstone incident seriously. The Director Of Culture and Community, Sam Eastop, is handling this personally, and I met him in the Park and was able to give him some background and local feeling etc. He honestly seemed to be horrified at what has happened, and he listened carefully to everything I said. He told me that the Council are actively thinking about ways to create some kind of memorial with the broken stones, so I think that’s good news.

    He also told me that the Payback team’s remit in the Park, as authorised by the Council was some painting, weeding and the removal of some dead shrubs. Full Stop. So even moving the stones, let alone smashing them up, was way beyond what was authorised.

    I said that criminal damage to a World Heritage site had been commited and that the community needs to see that there are consequences. If there are to be no consequences, some named figure in authority needs to say so and explain why – I don’t think Mr Eastop fancies doing this. I’m sorry if you think that this is a bit retributional, but I really just don’t think whoever ordered up the sledgehammers should be allowed to just walk away from this – sorry, but that’s my position. If drunken yobs had done this the Police would have been involved by now and not one of us would have a problem with that.

    I said above that this isn’t going to just go away, and the fact that there continue to be comments on this thread proves that. We should all keep the pressure up, though – they can’t sweep this under the carpet if we keep asking what is happening.

    NJ Wicken Reply:

    Unfortunately, it seems as if the main committee of the Friends have ostrich tendencies and think everything will go away if they do nothing. How they think it appropriate the chair remains in place is astonishing.

    The blame seems to fall squarely at the door of the chair Mr Tim Delap – as was recently stated at a public council meeting – yet the Friends main committee seem determined to help him cover this episode up. Why are they not taking the appropriate course of action and oust him from his post?

    I have met members of the Friends who do not sit on the main committee and they are just as horrified as everyone else. The fact Mr Delap has not stepped down only seems to imply the main committee supports him and his dreadful actions.

    Quite unbelievable and it really has damaged the Friends reputation, as appears to be the view widely held and discussed all around Greenwich.

    In my opinion, the only way to now rebuild the standing of the Friends of St Alfege Park would be for the entire committee to resign. A meeting should then be called for all existing and potential new members where a new chair and new main committee would be elected.

    However from what we have seen so far, it now appears doubtful the main committee are capable of doing the right thing regarding this sorry affair.

    Rod Reply:

    It is not so much ostrich-like but rather contempt for local residents’ feelings on the part of the Friends’ committee. I agree they should all resign and the meeting you suggest be convened where all of us who are horrified by what is happening join and ensure that this can never happen again.
    As it stands the reputation of the Friends as a power to improve Greenwich is about on a par with that of the Luftwaffe.

  36. Beaverkill on November 6th, 2011 6:52 pm

    I suggest prosecution for damaging the stones with payment for restoration of every one.

  37. Picking Up the Pieces | The Greenwich Phantom on November 8th, 2011 9:43 am

    [...] know it occurs to me that it’s been over a month since the 368-character statement from Tim Delap, the continuing chairman of St Alfege’s park’s Friends which is still [...]

  38. Shanon Hays on November 12th, 2011 7:42 pm

    I’m a resident of the US with ancestors buried at St. Alphege (mid 1600s), and I was hoping to visit their gravesites upon my visit to London in late December/early January. I am appalled to find that, not only have gravestones been demolished, but they have been moved as well? Where, may I ask, were the bodies moved if the churchyard has now been deconsecrated and turned into a park? How in the world does a world heritage site like this get demolished and turned into a park anyway? I thought Britons cared about their history… (Full disclosure: I am a heritage conservationist myself and am not only appalled at this on a personal level, but a professional level as well.)

    Wolfe Reply:

    Shanon, the churchyard was turned into a park over a century ago. It wasn’t demolished and it isn’t a world heritage site. It is on the edge of the Greenwich world heritage site. Only a few gravestones were, exceptionally sadly, destroyed but they were mostly unreadable because of erosion. So far as I know, no bodies were removed.

    Indigo Reply:

    I doubt that the bodies have been moved. Doing that is not a simple matter. In this country, you have to rebury them in consecrated ground.

    I have posted this before about the churchyard but here it is again:

    St Alfege Park was originally two orchards and the old churchyard. The orchards were given to the church in 1802 to be used as a new burial ground because the old churchyard was full.

    All burials in the church crypt, the churchyard and the new burial ground ceased by 1852, when all were judged to be full.

    In 1889 the Metropolitan Gardens Association moved most of the headstones to their present position around the walls of the site and laid out the area as a public park. At the same time, the church procured a Faculty that transferred responsibility for management and maintenance of the churchyard and this burial ground to the Greenwich District Board of Works, now Greenwich Council.

  39. JADon on December 5th, 2011 6:46 pm

    And there it rests! The crowd walks away “Nothing more to see here folks!” The culprits who organized this vandalism have laid low and the furor has subsided and will eventually no longer be even a memory. For so many years these memorials stood and the memorialized did indeed rest in peace till the cemetery acquired some thoughtless “Friends” It is all so very sad! Nothing done! No charges, no restoration, only a half-hearted attempt at an apology with no mention of trying to make things as right as they can be made. Sad!

    Rob Powell Reply:

    Hi JADon – check out this link for more recent posts on this subject:
    http://www.greenwich.co.uk/tag/st-alfege-park-headstones-controversy/

  40. JADon on December 7th, 2011 2:06 am

    Rob Powell – Thank you so much for the link to the articles (and also on behalf of others who may be following via this comment update link). Especially important to me were the references to the stones being placed in storage with an exploration of a means to remedy as much as possible this situation.
    Personally I do not care as much about the fate of the “Friends” as I do the stones and some form of restoration. Hopefully the Friends are never allowed further involvement with the Park, other than to atone for the mess they created. Financially, those who ordered the destruction should be obligated to deal in some way with the expense. They have some funds and claim to be a community group. Perhaps they can hold some form of events outside the park and raise money.
    It would appear that slowly light is being shed on what actually occurred and eventually someone who knows will, perhaps upon condition of anonymity, break the silence.
    I find it curious that so casually mention is made of using the stones in a paving project and talk of pathways. Perhaps I am not understanding what is meant and the intention is a cairn type of memorial with gravestones implanted there and a pathway alongside
    In any case Rob, I truly appreciate the detailed articles you have written and your efforts to keep people informed. Thank you especially for your responses to my fears that all would be forgotten and none held to account. There may have been no malicious intent among a group seemingly composed of seniors, just poor judgment and too much authority
    It was the seeming callous disrespect exhibited that troubled me the most. Consecrated or deconsecrated, means little to me. Such reckless treatment for the sake of a few veggies has troubled me ever since I first became aware of the situation. I will continue to follow this story and hope to have my faith in the common decency restored..
    Again a thank you Rob and if there is anything to be done I hope to be made aware. JADon

  41. topaz on January 16th, 2012 1:53 am

    I’ve been away, dealing with family issues, health issues and holidays, but this has never been far from my mind and heart. thank you for keeping us abreast of the subject, Rod, I’m pleased with the outcome, so far. some loose ends need tied up, and I can’t believe how doggedly stubborn the guilty party is regarding admitance of guilt and apology, and certainly some sort of repairs are needed, but I would expect the latter to take around 5 years to complete. just know my thoughts and good wishes are with you and your work to right this wrong, and with St. Alfege to recover from it.
    here in America it has been considered disrespectful to walk across a person’s grave, and being a senior, I am careful to walk between the graves in a crowded cemetery for that reason. I cannot imagine walking through a park with people buried beneath my feet. a cemetery should remain a cemetery, and respect for the dead should be just that.

  42. JADon on January 16th, 2012 6:04 pm

    It has been a very long time hasn’t it? This affair of the smashing of headstones in St. Alfege Park. In my mind it seems very long simply because there has been no admission of guilt nor adequate apology by this Friend’s group, no charges and no announcement of plans as how how “this will be made right” or at least “better”. Charges may well be the only way in which this avoidance of responsibility by Friend’s group Chair may come to an end and a proper apology and some however slight demonstration of remorse come to light
    I would love to see a restoration done and the junk (greenhouse…) and any other influence these Friends put on the property, removed so that the property may have some semblance of dignity restored. The stones should be given some appropriate proximate attention and whatever funds this defunct group of Friends have, be used toward the costs We all have our wish lists don’t we?