St Stephen the Martyr graveyard cemetery is situated behind the Church (High Street) on Fulton Lane, Penrith (UBD 163, L11). Penrith City Council became trustee of this significant cemetery on 5 March 1984.
St Stephen the Martyr Anglican Church and graveyard are entered in the Register of the National Estate. The Register’s Statement of Significance says that ‘St Stephen’s is the only early colonial building remaining in the town of Penrith’. The ‘unofficial’ town of Penrith achieved town status with the establishment of the church and cemetery.
The land on which the Church and cemetery is situated was purchased from John Tindale for twenty pounds. The parcel of land was part of an original Crown Grant to John Best by Governor Macquarie in 1814.
The placement of the fenced cemetery some distance from the Church is unusual. Most other churchyard cemeteries are closer to their church. The cruciform path and its alignment to the church tower shows that the churchyard cemetery was carefully planned.
The church and cemetery were consecrated on 16 July 1839. The first burial after consecration was of a 2 month old baby, Elizabeth Morkley on 21 July 1839. There is also physical evidence (headstone) that the cemetery was used before that date. The last burial in the cemetery took place in 1943.
The persons buried in St Stephens are from all levels of society and represent a cross-section of those involved in the development of Penrith with burials dated prior to civil registration.
The most notable burial in the cemetery is that of Sir John Jamison (1776-1844) of Regentville. Sir John is listed in the Australian Dictionary of Biography and was a significant citizen in the early days of the Colony. Buried with Sir John are his son, daughter in law and grandson. The inscription on the altar tomb is weathered and now almost illegible. It read:
In Memory of
SIR JOHN JAMISON M.D.R.N.
PHYSICIAN TO THE BALTIC FLEET 1807
DIED AT REGENTVILLE 29th JUNE 1844
ELDEST SURVIVING SON
SIR JOHN & DAME MARY JAMISON
DIED 27TH JANUARY 1878
WIFE OF R.T. JAMISON DIED 11 NOVEMBER 1864
SON OF THE ABOVE DIED 6TH DEC 1860
AGED 7 MONTHS
Thomas Appledore (Appledoor on headstone) who died in 1841 aged 75 years was an early settler in the Penrith district. Thomas was sentenced to seven years and transportation to New South Wales. In 1803, before his sentence had expired, he was granted 50 acres at Cranebrook. He was also a member of an expedition led by George Evans to explore west of the Great Dividing Range.
The monument for Emily Popplewell who died in 1863 shows exceptional craftsmanship. Emily was the third wife of Joseph Popplewell an early colonial sculptor and master stonemason. Joseph Popplewell was responsible for many fine monuments and also worked on the Great Hall at Sydney University. The monument for Emily Popplewell is marked B & E Popplewell. Joseph Popplewell died in 1872 and is buried in an unmarked grave in the Anglican Section at Rookwood Necropolis.
For more information concerning St Stephen the Martyr Church and Graveyard please contact Penrith City Council’s Local Studies Research Services, Central Library, 601 High Street, Penrith.
St Stephen the Martyr Church and Graveyard are included in the Penrith Valley Heritage Drive. Information concerning the Drive can be obtained from the Penrith Valley Visitor Information Centre in Panthers carpark and Council’s offices.
St Stephen the Martyr Church Archives Office is located in the old rectory next door to the church in High Street. The honorary archivists can be contacted through the Parish Office 9.00am to 1.00pm, Monday to Friday or by phoning (02) 47212124.
- J D McJones, History in Stone, A Genealogical Study of Headstones, St Stephen the Martyr, 1976.
- Lester Tropman & Associates, St Stephen the Martyr Church of England Churchyard.
- Don Godden & Associates Pty Ltd, Penrith Cemeteries, Conservation Plans prepared for Penrith City Council November 1989.
- Keith A Johnson & Malcolm R Sainty, Sydney Burial Ground 1819-1901.
- Penrith City e-history – Land Grantees – penrithcity.nsw.gov.au