Cultural heritage of China in Newcastle?
The China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation are planning a fundraising campaign to revamp the graves of 5 sailors from China's Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) located in Newcastle.
Chinese Graves in a Newcastle Cemetery [Photo:thecover.cn]
It’s the first fundraising campaign launched by the foundation for a cultural heritage conservation project overseas, which aims to raise about 410,000 yuan (around 59,500 USD) in donations.
The graves contain the remains of five seamen of the Beiyang Fleet, who were sent to Britain to collect vessels for the fleet in the 1880s but who became sick and died while being trained.
According to the foundation, cracks have been found in the gravestones and three of them have collapsed.
Their graves, bought for them by the government of China's Qing Dynasty, were found in May this year by a Chinese student who later posted the news on China's Twitter-like Weibo. Since it has been over one hundred years, most of the graves are in poor condition.
Experts from the Foundation conducted an inspection in September, and after noting the damage to the graves decided to repair them as soon as possible. The graves are in St. John's Cemetery, which was opened on the 22nd of October 1857 and was consecrated just over a year later. Just over 100,000 people have been buried here since it opened.
In the middle of the cemetery are two chapels, one for the Church of England and one for the dissenters, both of which are no longer in use.
In 1857 the Jewish community paid £500 for a section of the cemetery and this is now full with over 1000 graves.
Li Xiaojie, Director General of the foundation said that the graves are a precious overseas cultural heritage of China and it is right for China to repair them as they were bought and funded by the Chinese government in the first place.
"Currently a permanent cultural heritage of China found overseas is very rare," said Xu Lei, who helped to find the information about the graves in Newcastle. The graves have important historical value as it is testimony to the modern history of both China and Britain, added Xu.
Anyone who is interested in learning more about the project or donating to the project can visit the official website of the China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation at www.ccrpf.org.cn