The cemetery is the largest most crowded cemetery in Barbados and once a plantation is located in the north of Bridgetown on Westbury Road. Just as you leave the town centre via Cheapside, following on to Fontabelle and then Spring Gardens Highway, you turn right onto Westbury New Road and proceed the full length of this road to the T-junction with Westbury Road. The Westbury Cemetery is immediately opposite.
The oldest inhabitat of the 340 recorded (at present) is Ellen Blades (b.1861, d.1830). Families such as Austin, Blades, Boyce, Burton, Chase, Crawford, Evelyn, Hassell, Hinkson, Hutson, Lynch, Marshall, Phillips, Seale, Taylor, and Yearwood are amonst the names inturned on the site.
In 1928 Marian De-Wever was buried in the Westbury Cemetery. She emigrated to Barbados in 1925 with her wealthy Dutch husband, Vivian Arnold De-Wever, and their six children (two of whom are still living here). She is believed to be of the indigenous Lokono-Arawak tribes and sole surviving daughter of their last Chief Amorotahe Haubariria (Flying Harpy Eagle) of the Eagle Clan Lokono-Arawaks.
Westbury is one of the worlds oldest Military Cemeteries and contains five war graves of the British West Indies Regiment which are roughly grouped together. Another four war graves are scattered singly throughout the cemetery.
From the first world war Lance Corporal F. Grandison, an officer of the British West Indies Regiment (Service No. 15375) died on 13th of May 1919. Later from the second world war Captain J. D. Alleyne (Service No. 266310) of the Royal Army Medical Corps died on the 26th of December 1946.
John wrote:- “Back in August 2007 a grave digger told me about the cows last time I was there looking for a grave … and to me, Westbury Cemetery is not exactly a fun place to visit.“
Astonishingly our own will continuingly surprise us with the lack of care they can excercise. Local people often tie cows in Westbury Cemetery and their ropes/chains routinely knock over headstones and damage graves.
While the cows may keep the grass down in the Cemetery for free, it is not an official sanctioned maintenance method.
The place of rest for the dearly departed is slowly becoming place of rest for the weary living. Increasingly every Christmas day at burial grounds in every parish of Barbados, relatives of some of the departed come to place flowers on their graves then sit and spend time with them.
At Westbury Cemetery in St Michael, as soon as the gates opened at 8 a.m., people are there ready to pay their respects. Soon a constant flow of young and old go to honour their relatives.
Michael Padmore, a former Sanitation Service Authority employee who worked at the Westbury Cemetery for many years and now maintains graves there as he puts it for “some of my people”, watches the constant stream of people throughout the day.
It is definitely a tradition among many families to remember their departed at this time. Indeed, some families also come here to place flowers on the graves of their loved ones at Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, birthdays and other special anniversaries,” he noted.
This was certainly the case with sisters Sonia and Juann Hewitt, from Woodstock Road, Spooner’s Hill, St Michael, who went mid-morning to share a few minutes with their late sister June Redman who passed away in 2002. She was someone whom they noted loved Christmas, as they lovingly attended the flowers which they placed on the grave.
This is an activity which they repeat on Valentine’s Day, Easter and the day that would have been her birthday. It is not only their sister whom they remembered, but their mother as well, whose gravesite they had earlier visited at the St Thomas Parish Church burial ground.
A little distance away was Pat Harris, for whom the visit was a hard one, but which she nevertheless undertook as a matter of duty. First she paid respects at the graveside of her late son Mark, who was killed in a vehicular accident, and then to her uncle, Kenneth Downie, who died a year ago. There she stood a few moments in quiet reflection before putting some water on the plants which covered the grave.
Another woman who came to honour her departed, simply sat in the back of the car and paid close attention as her chauffeur got out to reverently place the arrangement atop the grave before moving off to do similar duties at two other spots.
All the while, Padmore kept vigil awaiting his people, promising that he would not leave until they had all arrived. He said it did not matter whether he missed the traditional Christmas lunch; this was all about sharing and caring – of duty. [Dec 2005]
John Mitchinson (1873-1881) once acted for five consecutive months, as Chaplain of the Westbury Cemetery. During that period he mentioned several abuses that he noticed – (1) disregard of punctuality; (2) the heartlessness and indifference of surviving relatives, especially in the case of infants, the little coffin taken under the arm of some indifferent person; (3) pauper funerals consisting solely of the hearse containing the black wooden shell with never a single mourner.
Michinson himself was an Oxford scholar obtaining three first Classes and was also an accomplished musician. He was consecrated in Canterbury Cathedral on the 24th of June 1873 but resigned the bishopric on 30th of June 1881 shortly before he pass on.
Of Recent Times
03/Jan/2008 – The artist-songwriter Winston Jordan was Interned in Westbury Cemetery. Known for his visual art, cartoons, costume designs and calypso songwriting he was 58 and passed away at his Collymore Rock, St Michael home Saturday 22 Dec 2007 in the morning after battling diabetes for some time. Jordan is survived by his daughter, Tricia (29), and son Winston Jr (28), who both live in the United States, his father Lionel Stuart, who lives in Canada, and his mother, Elaine Lawrence (75), and another son, Winslow (26), who both live in Barbados.
24/Jan/2007 – The bodies of ten of the 11 Senegalese men (having left the Cape Verde islands off west Africa in December 2005) who were discovered in April 2006 in a small boat off the island’s east coast, were buried on 31st of January 2007 at Westbury Cemetery. The one body positively identified as 29-year-old Diao Souncar Dieme of Senegal was flown back home for a Muslim burial.
05/Jul/2006 – At least one grieving family and the friends of an 83-year-old woman had to take up shovels and cover her grave with soil to bury the loved one during a morning service after gravediggers in Barbados’ largest cemetery went on a 10-hour strike to demand new boots. A total of 67 grave diggers and laborers at the Westbury Cemetery in the capital of Bridgetown picked up their shovels walked off the job early Tuesday citing a lack of rubber boots for use during the hurricane season as their main concern. Other demands of Barbados Sanitation Service members included new first-aid kits and structural repairs to facility buildings. “All the workers here are just fed up with conditions,” said Anthony Eastmond, shop steward for the grave diggers’ union.