Gail’s Travails Reveal Tragic Story

Posted by on Nov 21, 2011 | 7 Comments

Table_40 2011-11-17

George's grave is next to the right side of the church

Thank you to those generous Spec readers who stumped up their cash (and their artwork) to raise funds for the legal bill to help save the St Paul’s church and graveyard.

With a modest contribution from The Spec, the fund reached $1165, including the sale of a painting from Lyndsay Brock on TradeMe. Outstanding effort Spec readers!

As mentioned in an earlier article, Gail’s research has led to a geotech team discovering graves that are positioned outside the graveyard; one of which has brought to attention the tragic story of little George Deverall.

One hundred and twenty years ago, eleven-year old George was playing with a toy cannon when the weapon discharged, hitting the little guy in the stomach. He eventually died that year – 1891 – from his injuries, and was buried under the oak tree behind the church. The fence around his plot rotted away over the years and his grave was forgotten until Gail’s kerfuffling led to a geotech survey of the grounds being conducted, and George’s resting place was re-discovered. The surveyors have marked the site of George’s grave with blue paint.

In the process of repairing the graveyard several years ago, ex minister Sherri Weinberg and Gail have both spoken of finding the tragic evidence of smashed graves belonging to other long forgotten children.

If for no other reason, the saving of this land has been worth it just to allow these poor little souls to rest in peace.


  1. Murray Thompson says:

    I think the church itself and outbuildings would be a great place to house the Devonport Museum. With such a prominent postion more local people and tourists would frequent it than the existing museum.

  2. Sherri says:

    As far as I can see animosity is directed at the present church regime and has nothing to do with those good and faithful servents of years gone by. I suspect they would be turning in their respective graves (hopefully well kept with love and respect)at the situation that this lovely old church finds itself in. I remind readers that St Paul’s is the “mother” church on the North Shore and therefore needs to be treated with the utmost respect … which, sadly, has not been the case. It’s is quite wonderful that the community is stepping up to the plate and taking “ownership” of one of the most charming and historic public places that holds *and is revealing)the secrets of the community in its sacred land. Nothing I have read here appears to be misinformed. Can N please clarify?

  3. N says:

    Given the long and proud history of the Presbyterian Church in Devonport since its establishment in 1865, the parade of comments made on your stories has been quite astonishing, many of them ill-informed, and also revealing a considerable degree of animosity. They would absolutely astonish those nineteenth-century church members and workers whose graves are the subject of all this discussion. Respect the graves certainly, but also those who served to the best of their ability. None were perfect, nor are we, and there is an apt saying about casting the first stone.

  4. Lyndsay says:

    In answer to ‘al’….Yes, that’s the big question, but the re-discovered graves mean the church actually cannot be sold at the moment because, as Gail has proven, the whole site was originally a cemetary.
    On past behaviour, I would guess the church’s next move would be to try to exhume those graves that prevent the buildings being subdivided off from the burial area (something that makes most people feel reeeeally uneasy) and this would involve a lengthy legal process….The whole business is just hugely sad, and I hope the church realises that their long years of disrespect for those buried at St Paul’s, plus their efforts to profit from land given in trust, has done little to enhance their mana in the eyes of the community.
    And as a PS; Big thanks to the speculator for the ‘bail out Gail’ campaign….Brilliant!

  5. Sherri says:

    It’s absolutely marvellous that little George Deverell’s burial site has finally been identified. It would be very fitting if his name plaque and the little picket fence were replaced which nis another project:) Well done Gail … without your efforts the wole place could well have been sold by now and the business of exhumanation getting underway which would have been tragic. Al’s question is very valid. What next for the magnificant old church?

  6. Diane says:

    I think its great the grave yard can not be sold – but I think the church should be. If the church isnt sold – who pays for the upkeep? Lawns, broken windows, leaking roof? Will it all just fall into a ruin?

  7. al says:

    Whilst I agree and support all of this work in protecting the graves and site, I remain puzzled as to what the Church will actually be used for now …. ??

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