Hidden for decades, old graves are found buried under bushes

A grave uncovered at Highland Cemetery
A grave uncovered at Highland Cemetery

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OLD graves that remained hidden at a cemetery for decades have been discovered after an area of bushes was cleared.

Workers found four headstones at Highland Road Cemetery, Southsea.

Each was unknown to cemetery officials and was not recorded on the Memorials Register when it was first taken in 1976.

They have now been added.

Pat Coakley, chairman of The Friends of Highland Road Cemetery, said: ‘It’s always exciting to find a new grave and a story about someone buried there.

‘It was not surprising that we found these headstones.

‘The bushes had reached a stage where they were so overgrown that we expected there must be something under there.

‘We’ll probably find a lot more as the work nears completion.’

A white undamaged gravestone, pictured above, emerged from the large clump of trees in a section of the graveyard. It was covered up for at least 45 years.

The Friends of Highland Road Cemetery, which runs tours through the site, found it belonged to a Patrick Foley – a corporal in the Royal Marines Artillery.

Mr Foley, formerly of Cumberland Road, Southsea, was buried in the plot in 1867. He joined his 11-month-old daughter who had been buried there in 1861.

Only six years after Mr Foley’s death, his wife Mary was buried in the grave with him, and in 1903 their son Charles who had worked as a driller in the dockyard, joined them.

Mr Coakley added: ‘We have around 300 stories about people buried in the cemetery, and tell some of them during our tours.

‘We put them on display and help people find their relatives who might be buried in the graveyard, so it’s great to be able to add more to our database.’

The garden work to refurbish the cemetery started in December last year, and is being carried out by contractors for Portsmouth City Council.