Sunday, December 18, 2016

Marjorie Helen (neé Joly) (1923-2016)

On July 9, 2016, Marjorie Drakeford (neé Joly) passed away peacefully in the United Kingdom. Born in Beirut, Mrs. Drakeford was the granddaughter of Ernest Joly (buried IV G 1), daughter of Kenneth Joly (buried IV H 2), and sister of John Joly (buried IV B 4). She was also the aunt of AACA president Harriet Joly. Ms. Drakeford took great interest in the history of the Anglo-American community in Beirut, independently publishing in 1997 All Saints' Church Beirut, Lebanon and the Community that Built it, which outlined the history of the All Saints' International Congregation, whose pastor sits on the Anglo-American Cemetery Association. A eulogy was given by her son David and is reproduced with permission below.

It is with great sadness that David Drakeford and Hil Piering announce the death, at 93, of their mother Marjorie Drakeford (Joly); daughter of Kenneth and Gertrude Joly, sister of John Joly and aunt to Susan, Harriet and Dominic Joly. Marjorie was born and grew up in Beirut, Lebanon and by her own account it was an idyllic childhood. She attended school in England at Cheltenham Ladies’ College. She spent the war years in Jerusalem where she met her husband and where David was born. Shortly before the end of the war she returned to England where Hilary was born and where she lived for the rest of her life mostly in two small villages, Elham in Kent and Brockhampton in Gloucestershire, where she was heavily involved in village life. The latter part of her life she lived in Cheltenham and was involved in the Citizens Advice Bureau as an advisor and tutor.

Hilary and David remember her as a devoted mother who was always there for us through some difficult times. We remember her as always able to laugh even when things got tough for her as they did on more than one occasion. She was devoted to her family and accepted Hilary’s spouses Richard and Scott and David’s wife Victoria, as well as grandchildren Sam and Wil’s wives Andrea and Lianne with love and affection. She was a devoted grandmother to four grandchildren, Sam, Wil, Katie and Andrew and great-grandmother to twin great-grandchildren, Rudy and Lux. Her love of family also extended to her extended family and she was able to provide a base in England for her brother and his family as well as cousins, aunts and uncles. Always a gifted story teller, in later life she became the documenter of both her mother’s and her father’s families of which she was intensely proud and  she wrote an extensive history of Henry Heald and Co, the family firm in Beirut.

She was a quietly and sincerely ethical person and had an integrity that ran to all things in her life and which arose in part from her Christian faith in all its love and simplicity. She was intensely interested in all the large variety of people she met in her extensive travels, back to the Middle East, to India, to the US and Europe and to Canada where her son and his family now live. This interest and concern for all peoples was evident in her relations with the carers, from many parts of the world, who looked after her with care in the last few years of her life, in a home in Cheltenham. Her children, grandchildren and great- grandchildren as well as family and many friends continued to visit her to the end of her remarkable life. 

She is greatly missed.

Monday, August 8, 2016

excerpt from "From Foreign soil to the ʾArḍ of Beirut: A history of the American University of Beirut and the Anglo-American Cemetery"

2016 marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the American University of Beirut, one of the institutions responsible for the establishment of the AAC, its restoration and current functioning. As part of the anniversary's commemorations, Christine Lindner contributed a chapter to the edited volume One Hundred and Fifty, edited by Nadia Maria el Cheikh, Lina Choueiri and Bilal Orfali. In this chapter, Dr. Lindner explores the history of the AUB and AAC. Below are excepts from this chapter.

At the turn of the 20th century, the Syrian Protestant College (SPC), as the American University of Beirut (AUB) was then called, faced an unexpected problem. The success of the college, as an institute of higher learning in the Eastern Mediterranean region, attracted an increasing number of American and British national for its faculty and staff. Drawn to Beirut, these new immigrants sought to reconstruct their lives in this emerging center of cultural, political and economic activity. While creating a new, transnational community in the suburb of Raʾs Beirut, the new migrants were only loosely connected to the American Protestant mission from which the SPC had sprung during the mid-19th century. The classrooms where the new SPC “staffites” taught, the medical offices where they served, and the houses where they resided, were concentrated along the new streets of Raʾs Beirut, rather than within the Mission Compound just south of the old city walls. This short distance, of a mile and a half, nevertheless reflected SPC’s emerging position as a new nexus of Anglo-American activity in the city....

            It is unclear from the archives why land on Raʾs Beirut was not chosen for the location of the new Anglo-American Cemetery. As the cemetery catered primarily to those working at the SPC, locating the cemetery on Raʾs Beirut would have been an obvious choice that reinforced SPC’s position on the ‘head’ of the city.[1] Virgin land was available as the quarter remained sparsely developed even until the mid-20th century.[2] However, it could have been the undeveloped nature of this area, on the edge of red sand hills with its ever present threat of sand-storms, which deterred its selection for the location of the new cemetery.[3] Contemporary Anglo-American views on death resulted in garden-like cemeteries on the edges of cities, where graves would remain undisturbed for relatives to visit.[4] The instability of the Raʾs Beirut’s landscape would have been unsettling for those deciding a location to inter their loved ones.[5]

            As a result, a plot of land was purchased in Furn al-Shubbak, a south-eastern suburb of the city. Like Raʾs Beirut, this area was still developing during the early 20th century, but its terrain was much more stable amongst the pine trees near the Beirut River.[6] Although three and a half miles from SPC, the new cemetery was situated just off the busy Beirut-Damascus Road and was one mile south of the Protestant cemeteries in Raʾs al-Nabaʾa. Moreover, Furn al-Shubbak was a terminal stop for the Beirut Trams.[7] This made the trip from SPC’s Main Gate to the AAC a simple ride along this new medium of modern transportation. By transversing the city, either by car or tram, in order to attend the burial of an associate or annually commemorate a relative’s death, members of the SPC community turned these transportation routes into extended branches of SPC. Noticeably two other cemeteries were eventually built around the AAC,[8] creating an enclave of sacred space that paralleled Raʾs Beirut ‘s enclave of exceptionalisim. Thus, SPC’s influence extended beyond its immediate neighborhood and reached across the city even into a distant suburb.
            The connection between the AAC and AUB (as the SPC had been renamed in 1920) was strengthened in 1960 when the Mission Cemetery in Zuqaq al-Blat was closed. Two years prior, the American Mission was notified that an urban planning project was to be enacted,[9] for which a new road would cut through the Mission Compound and disrupt the cemetery.[10] Accordingly, the missionaries arranged for the graves to be exhumed and reburied at the AAC.[11] The result was the unification of graves for the Anglo-American AUB staffites. Although miles from the buzz of College Hall, the AAC, by 1960, was the resting place for three generations of the SPC/AUB Anglo-American community, and it’s second permanent mark on Beirut’s cityscape.
The chapter continues with a discussion on the use of individual gravestones as sources for international history (and the silences that they can hide). It concludes with an exploration of the relationship between the Crawford-West family and AUB as revealed through their graves at the AAC.

Christine B. Lindner, "From Foreign soil to the ʾArḍ of Beirut: A history of the American University of Beirut and the Anglo-American Cemetery"," in: Nadia Marie El Cheikh, Lina Choueiri and Bilal Orfail, (eds.), One Hundred and Fifty (Beirut: American University of Beirut, 2016), 189-200. The book is available for purchase at the AUB Press.

[1] In Arabic, Raʾs Beirut means the 'head of Beirut'.
[2] Khalaf and Kongstad, Hamra of Beirut: 31-33; Abunnasr, ‘The Making of Ras Beirut’: 256.
[3] Controlling the sand was a major feat tackled by the erection of the Sanayah on the other side of the sand dunes. See Khalaf, Heart of Beirut: Reclaiming the Bourj, (London: Saqi, 2006): 73
[4] Carlton Basmajian and Christopher Coutts, ‘Planning for the Disposal of the Dead’, Journal of the American Planning Association, 76:3 (2010): 306.
[5] Another fear could have been the jackals that ran wild in the suburbs. Edward W. Hooker, Memoir of Mrs. Sarah Lanman Smith, Late of the Mission in Syria, [First Edition], (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1839): 183. Folklore of Raʾs Beirut recalls that the sand dunes were the location to bury criminals, which could be another reason why the AAC was not located there.
[6] Henry W. Glockler, ‘Grave Removals and other data on the cemetery’, ([Beirut]: [May] 1960): RG 115-3-17, PHS.
[7] Jens Hanssen, Fin de Siècle Beirut: The Making of an Ottoman Provencal Capital, (Oxford: Clarendom Press, 2005): 101-103. Noticeably, it was from Furn al-Shubbak that the 1922 boycott of the trams emerged, which disrupted access to the AAC by tram and car as the protests also occupied the streets. Carla Eddé, Beyrouth: Naissance D’une Capitale, (1918-1924), (Beirut: Sindbad, 2009): 302-315
[8] In 1924, the Armenian community purchase part of the AAC land for a cemetery catering to its own community. James H. Nicol to Henry W. Glockler, (Beirut: 15 April 1924): RG 115-3-15, PHS; James H. Nicol to Members of the Cemetery Committee, (Beirut: n.d.):  RG 115-3-15, PHS. A Maronite Cemetery was also built to the east of the AAC.
[9] There is evidence suggesting that the project dates to the Mandate Period, although the earliest concrete evidence comes from the American missionaries who inquired about relocating the graves of the Mission Cemetery to the AAC in 1948. n.s., ‘[Regulations] governing the removal of a cemetery’, ([Beirut]: 26 August 1948): RG 115-3-17, PHS.
[10] An undated and non-titled map held by NEST Special Collections shows the road proposal plans, which would only partially disrupt the cemetery, but would cut it off from the rest of the Mission Compound.
[11] Glockler, ‘Grave Removals and other data on the cemetery’.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Saint George Day 2016

Families enjoying St. George Day

On Saturday, 23 April 2016 a group gathered to celebrate Saint George (Mar Jirjus), the patron saint of England and Beirut, and raise funds for the restoration of the Anglo-American Cemetery of Beirut.

The festivities took place at the Colonel brewery in northern seaside city of Batroun and were attended by numerous guests, including His Excellency Hugo Shorter, British Ambassador to Lebanon. Events included a historic tour of the city, a visit to Saint Georges Church, and a cricket match organized by the Saint George’s Cricket Club of Lebanon. The traditional British delicacy of “Bangers mash and onion gravy” were served (in addition to the host’s Colonel beer). Funds were raised through the sale of raffles and the donation of a beautiful painting by Tom Young. Clothing and non-perishable foods were also collected for the needy in Lebanon.

UK Ambassador Hugo Shorter with Jamil Haddad, owner of Colonel Beer
According to tradition, Saint George was to born in the 3rd Century to Christian parents in Lydda, Palestine (although some accounts say that he was born in Anatolia, but raised in Palestine). He joined the Roman army and it was as a soldier that he accomplished his most famous feat: slaying the dragon.

Bruce Condè wrote, “Beirut being blockaded by a monster who periodically arose out of a small lake or well between the town and the river, to terrorize the inhabitants, the people begged their ruler to accede to the creature's demand for the surrender of his daughter as the price of the city's freedom.  As the weeping princess left the Bab es-Serail (east) gate of the town walls, St. George rescued her from the dragon, killing it a short distance from the well and freeing the city.” 

icon from Saint George Maronite Cathedral
Following this and other conquests, George traveled to Britain and eventually challenged Emperor Diocletian’s order to persecute Christians. As a result, George was martyred on 23 April (according to the Gregorian Calendar)/ 6 May (according to the Julian Calendar), which are dates that he is commemorated.

Saint George (Mar Jirjus) is unique in that he is one of the few saints revered by both “eastern” and “western” churches. In central Beirut are located the Saint George Maronite Cathedral as well as Saint Georges Greek Orthodox Cathedral. Within Muslim communities he is sometimes referred to as “al-Khadr” (Saint Elias also shares this distinction). Events, such as the annual Saint George Day, are important in that they bring together individuals from different nationalities and religious backgrounds in Lebanon—an ideal also upheld by the Anglo-American Cemetery.
Guests enjoying the festivities

The Anglo-American Cemetery Association would like to thank Ms. Sabina Llewellyn-Davies for coordinating this event and her support for the Anglo-American Cemetery, the generous donation by D.G.Jones & Partners (ME) Ltd towards the AACA’s restoration work, Jamil Haddad and Colonel Brewery for hosting the event, and all who attended and supported this worthy cause.

Christine B. Lindner
6 May 2016

Photographs courtesy of Sabina Llewellyn-Davies and Jonathan Mayers