Orange Cemetery

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In 1829 surveyor James Richards mapped a village reserve to be called Orange located on Blackman’s Swamp Creek. The 1851 census indicated that Orange had a population of 28 people, with 7 houses constructed and another 7 under construction. However the discovery of Australia’s first gold field at nearby Ophir was soon to change the future of Orange.

By 1853 the need for a new cemetery resulted in surveyor John Nicholson marking out an 8 acre site located to the east of the village of Orange. Previously burials had taken place at the Chinaman's Bend Cemetery. The plan provided for four principal denominations (Church of England, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian and Wesleyan) and smaller reserves (Pagans, Independents, Quakers and Jews).

Set out in four parallel strips, three access corridors were provided to service the site. This design is unusual in 19th century cemetery planning as most cemeteries were divided in unequal blocks approximating quarters. Trustees were appointed to manage each cemetery area.

The earliest known burial in the Orange cemetery is of Bridget Conley in December 1853, a month after the final survey plan for the cemetery was completed.

By 1870, only 17 years after the cemetery was planned, an extension was mapped that trebled the size of the area. It provided for a Baptist and a general section as well as provided additional areas for the four main denominations. The 1870 cemetery boundary remained until 2003 when additional land adjacent to the southeast corner of the cemetery was approved for use as an extension to the cemetery.

However there have been a series of internal changes to the cemetery layout over time, reflecting the changing demographics of Orange. As there apparently were no Pagans their reserve was incorporated into the Wesleyan area. The Quaker area was taken over by the Chinese by 1883 and later reduced in size. The Jewish allotment was also reduced in area while elsewhere in the cemetery allocation was made for Congregational burials.

By 1968 the cemetery also provided for additional diverse denominations with areas established for Plymouth Brethren, Dutch Reform, Lutheran, Salvation Army, Seventh Day Adventist and Latter Day Saints.

Until the 1960s each burial ground within the cemetery was the responsibility of the different religious groups. The Local Government Cemeteries Act 1966 transferred the control of the cemeteries to local Councils. Orange City Council took control from the former Canobolas Shire Council in 1977. There are more than 7,000 headstones in the Orange cemetery, however it is not known conclusively how many burials have taken place there over the past 167 years as some records have not survived. The Council holds a series of burial records and can assist with inquiries regarding the location of specific graves. The Orange Family History Group has compiled a comprehensive CD-rom database of all headstone transcripts for the Orange General Cemetery, as well as the area’s church graveyards and village cemeteries.

Stonemasons’ names are often incorporated into the monument details. Two out of the 32 masons recorded dominate, and were local businessmen. Following are some of the stonemasons who exhibited their skills to the wealth of monuments in the cemetery.

  • King - Orange
  • McMurtrie - Orange
  • Padey - Orange
  • Norris - Orange
  • Burns - Bathurst
  • Withington-Orange
  • Kendall-Orange
  • Rusconi - Orange
  • Davis - Orange
  • Andrews - Rookwood
  • Patten - Sydney
  • Hall - Lithgow
  • Haydon - Orange
  • Kennedy - Molong
  • Larcombe - Rookwood
  • Ramsdale - Bowenfels
  • Samuel - Woolloomooloo
  • Arnold - Sydney
  • McCarthy - Cowra
  • Shakespeare - Wellington
  • Venables - Orange
  • Wharcombe - Dubbo

  • Nicholls, Heather (2004). “100 lives of Orange; stories in stone”. Heather Nicholls, Orange NSW.
  • ‘’Self guided tour of Orange General Cemetery No 1, an introduction to the Cemetery History’’ (n.d.).Orange City Council, Orange NSW.
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