East Perth Cemeteries
Brief History The East Perth Cemeteries are located on what was to be known as
Cemetery Hill, the highest hill in central Perth. Soon after establishing the Swan River settlement, Lt
Governor James Stirling ordered that all burials in the Colony were to take place at designated burial
grounds and were to take place as soon as possible after sunrise or an hour before sunset.
The area was surveyed by John Septimus Roe in 1829 as a potential location for the Swan River
Colony's main burial grounds and it was approved in November of the same year. The first person to be buried there
was Private John Mitchell of the 63rd Regiment who died of dropsy in 1830.
The Cemetery contains over 800 stones scattered around 5 hectares. Some of the State's most well
known pioneers are buried in this cemetery such as John Septimus Roe (First Surveyor General), Joseph Hardey
(Farmer at Tranby House), Richard Roach Jewell (Colonial Architect), Sir Archibald
Paull Burt (Chief Justice of Western Australia) and Lieutenant.Col.A.C. Clarke (Governor of the Colony) .The Church
of England section is the oldest in the cemetery.
Seven Cemeteries Originally the cemetery was designated for all the settlers of the
colony, however in 1842 the Church of England sort to have their own area within the cemetery. In 1848 a lot
was allocated and the Church of England cemetery was consecrated. As you can imagine it wasn't long before
other religious denominations were requesting the same. The cemetery was divided into areas for the Church of
England, Roman Catholics, Wesleyan/Methodists, Presbyterians, Independent Christians (Congregationalist),
Hebrews and the Chinese. Each religious group independently managed their cemeteries with the exception of
Both the Church of England and the Roman Catholics had their grave sites arranged in rows in
descending order of status, a sure sign of the times when the class system was extremely important. The last burial
in the cemetery was in 1924.
In the 1930's the land, which had been controlled by the various church
authorities, was relinquished and later declared a disused burial ground. The cemeteries came under the
control of the State Gardens Board and were given a "A" Class Reserve title .
In the late 1940's the Presbyterian, Jewish and Chinese sections of the cemetery, on the western
side of Plain Street, were given to the Education Department. The memorials were removed and relocated in the
cemetery before tennis courts were built over them.
As East Perth expanded, public roads and gardens were established and in many cases had to be built
over sections of the cemeteries. Generally most memorials were saved and relocated however many unmarked graves
were built over.
In 1967 the Cemeteries came under control of the National Parks Authority and then in 1985 by the
Department of Conservation and Land Management. the Cemeteries site was officially handed to the National Trust in
St Bartholomew's Mortuary ChapelSt Bartholomew's Mortuary Chapel was built by the Church of England in
1871 as response to complaints about the difficulty in transporting coffins from St Georges Cathedral. It was
considered a long way from the main colony and sand made it difficult for wagons to get to the cemetery on
the hill. The Gothic Style was believed to be the work of Colonial Architect, Richard Roach Jewell. Click here for more about St Bartholomews Chapel.
Today, St Bartholomew's is open to the public on Sundays where you can wander through the graves
stones of some of the State's earliest settlers and have a chat with the volunteers who provide a wealth of
information about the site. For more information visit the National Trust WA Site.