Christ Church Burial Ground

Earlier this week I was fortunate enough to make it to the fifth Death Salon event at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia. While in town I planned to visit Laurel Hill Cemetery but time constraints and exhaustion prevented me from following through. (Excuses, excuses.)

Christ Church Burial Ground was about a half an hour’s walk from the hotel so one afternoon I ventured out in that direction knowing that there was only an hour or so for exploration.

Additionally cutting into time, Google Maps sent me to the church instead of the cemetery so I wandered around aimlessly before someone told me that my destination was three blocks away on 5th and Arch.

These few acres in the middle of the city are home to the worldly remains of 4,000 people including five men who signed the Declaration of Independence. If you don’t make it to the cemetery during its open hours you can still flick a penny onto Benjamin Franklin’s grave through the only non-bricked, fenced part of the wall.

Benjamin Franklin's marker
The shared marker for Benjamin Franklin and his wife Deborah. In 1858 the family had the fence installed so that visitors could view his grave and leave pennies on it according to the cemetery’s website (linked above).
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The marker to the left belongs to Benjamin’s daughter Sarah (“Sally”) and her husband Richard Bache.

Marble stones outline the perimeter of the larger markers, several containing the original inscriptions for Benjamin and Deborah’s relatives.

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L: John Read, Deborah’s father and R: Four-year-old Francis, the Franklins’ son who died of smallpox
Emma Mary Bache (1803-1813)
Emma Mary Bache (1803-1813); one of Richard and Sally Bache’s grandchildren

It’s unfortunate that I didn’t realize that I was standing near a very interesting area of the cemetery, otherwise I would’ve waited for the other tourists to clear to obtain a better photo.

“The Allee”

Underneath each of these twenty ledger stones is a vault in which up to twenty people were buried beginning between the early 1800s and late 1920s. In 2007 the vaults were opened for restoration and if you’re interested in what was found below ground, read this article from Philly.com.

Without further ado, I present a few of my favorite images from this hauntingly beautifully bone orchard.

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I always meet new friends on these excursions.

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