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1905 Fire and Moorefields or Moorfields

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The publication of the first edition of the book Moorefields Cemetery Records compiled by Joyce Ormsby. Canterbury and District Historical Society, 1983 brought an overwhelming response. Among the letters received was this one from Mr Cant, containing additional historical information about Moorefields Church and Cemetery. Mr William Cant is the son of Percy William Cant who, together with Mr Albert Miller compiled the burial records we have today.  These records were compiled from memory after fire destroyed the original records.  William Cant's letter is reproduced with his kind permission.

Dear Mrs Ormsby,

Recently I had an opportunity to see a copy of your excellent publication Moorefields Cemetery Records for the Canterbury and District Historical Society. I must congratulate you on the meticulous care and detail you have shown in the compilation of the records. I spent the first 40 years of my life in active involvement with the Moorfields Methodist Church and held almost every office in the Church during that period. My father, the late P. W. Cant, is referred to in your publication (in conjunction with the late Albert Miller). M y father spent his last few years, before ill-health prevented him continuing, almost daily in the Cemetery recording the details of the graves for Church records. At one stage (during the 1920’s) he was Cemetery Agent for the Church Trust and was Trust Treasurer for nearly 30 years.

I note that the spelling is given as “Moorefields”, although it is noted that an earlier spelling was of “Moorfields”. Those of us who were actively involved always considered “Moorfields” as the correct spelling. For some reason the road was spelt with an “e” and the Church “acquired” the same name as time went on. It was frequently confused with the Moorefields Racecourse at Kogarah (now defuncta0, mail intended for Moorfields Church, Lakemba going to Kogarah and getting lost.

Mr Miller and I, when working on the Centenary Booklet, gained a lot of information from Mr E Forrester, a descendant of the Chards, and buried in Section D, 20-22 in June, 1970, aged 96 years. He maintained that the Church was named after “Moorfields Cottage” (located near the present Kingsgrove Bus Depot). This cottage was named after Rev, John Wesly’s London headquarters – Moorfields Foundery – when he founded the Methodist Church during the eighteenth century. Moorfields in London is still famous for the great Eye Hospital and the Insurance Industry.

Mr Forester explained that the Section A.1 in the Cemetery was originally a driveway for horse-drawn hearses to enable funerals to get to the back section of the Cemetery, and in later years when the Cemetery began to fill, the driveway was surveyed and allotments were made and sold as burial blocks. The Section was numbered A.1.

He also told us that a number of the graves in the back areas of Sections from about I to L were of aborigines and convicts and were unmarked and unknown. Although now actively involved with the Punchbowl Uniting Church (ex Methodist), I have fond memories of my years at Moorfields where I began my Church life as a child during the First World War. Your Cemetery Record is a very valuable contribution to Church an District history and deserves congratulations. With kind regards.

Yours sincerely,

(Mr) W. A. Cant

4th May, 1984

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