This post is dedicated to all those of you who like mystery and legends, or who simply want to get to know the English Cemetery in Malaga.
Visiting the English Cemetery in Malaga is a special, original and even spiritual experience. Remember that you are in a placesymbolic for the Protestant faith, be careful where you step, avoid loud voices and respect.
It looks even older than it is. All the tombstones and mausoleums are made of stone. Some are partially destroyed, giving it a gloomy appearance. The burials are mixed with vegetation that sometimes encroaches on the graves. It is configured as a Romantic garden, one of the prevailing styles in England during the 19th century.
What you will find here
THE FIRST PROTESTANT CEMETERY IN SPAIN
That’s right, this cemetery is the first cemetery for the burial of “Protestants” in Spain. It was the pioneer in providing a solution to the problem faced by this Christian religious current.
WHO ARE THE PROTESTANTS?
Protestantism is a variant of the Christian religion that originated in central Europe in the 16th century. It differs from Christianity in that salvation does not depend on works, but on faith. Moreover, they regard the Bible as the only holy book to be followed. They do not worship saints, nor do they worship images. These differences led to clashes in Europe during the Modern Age.
WHY AN ENGLISH CEMETERY?
England was one of the nations that embraced Protestantism most strongly. In the 19th century the English and other Central Europeans living in Malaga were often Protestant. The disagreements between the two religions prevented Protestants from being buried in a Christian cemetery, as they were considered heretics.
Buried standing on the beach
Because there was no regulation in this respect, they were buried in different ways in different places. Since the 16th century, in Malaga, the corpses were taken to the beach at night, as the public act was not allowed. There, lit by torchlight, they were buried standing in the sand with their heads out. The sea or the dogs were in charge of taking care of the bodies.
This macabre Protestant burial practice came to an end in 1830.
WHO BUILT THE ENGLISH CEMETERY?
MR. WILLIAM MARK, THE BRITISH CONSUL
William came from a humble family. He made a career for himself as an accountant in the British navy. He even met Admiral Horatio Nelson himself, for whom he worked for a time. In 1824 he was appointed British consul to the Kingdom of Granada, based in Malaga. From then on he devoted great efforts to the search for a place to bury the Protestants. A few years later, in 1830, he managed to get the Malaga authorities to cede a site on the outskirts of the city to build a cemetery, the first Protestant cemetery in Spain.
WHO IS BURIED IN THE ENGLISH CEMETERY?
Although small, there are many people buried here. We are going to show you some of the illustrious men and women who lie in this Protestant cemetery.
The first person buried here was George Stephens, the owner of a merchant ship who drowned in the bay of Malaga in 1831. However, the walled perimeter of the cemetery changed, so the first person to be buried in the current location was the Irishman Robert Boyd (we will tell you who he was later).
Gamel Woolsey (1895-1968)
Gamel was a writer, poet and translator. She was born in the United States and spent much of her life in England and Spain (more specifically in Málaga). Although she did not publish many works during her lifetime, other works of hers came to light after her death. In Malaga he is best known for his work “Málaga en llamas”, in which he narrates the horrors of the Spanish Civil War. It was precisely from that war that she fled in a battleship with her husband Gerald Brenan in 1936.
Gerald Brenan (1894-1987)
Gerald was an English Hispanist born in Malta, although he lived most of his life in Andalusia. He was much loved by the people of the places where he lived, mainly in Yegen (Alpujarra), Churriana and Alhaurín el Grande (the latter two on the coast of Málaga).
He is considered one of the leading figures of 20th century hispanism for his prolific work between the cultured and the popular. He was a scholar and lover of Spanish popular culture and its Andalusian influence. This passion took him to the Alpujarra on several occasions, especially to the area of Yegen, where he also had a sentimental relationship with a local woman. He knew and described the deepest Alpujarra of the 1920s and 1930s.
Mary Ann Heaton Plews (1868-1911)
Mary Ann’s tomb is one of the most beautiful and colourful in the cemetery. An angel clutching a cross points to heaven with her left hand. However, it is one of the most unknown and enigmatic characters. The only thing we know is what is engraved on her mausoleum. She died at the age of 43 during the birth of her fourth child.
There is a rumour that the angel guarding the tomb houses the soul of the deceased. This story was told by an enigmatic character to Antonio Alcaide, who was in charge of the maintenance of the cemetery at the time. The character claimed that the sculpture was hollow and that it contained Mary Ann’s corpse. He even claimed that it sometimes came to life and that he himself had seen it.
Robert Boyd (1805-1831)
Irish-born Boyd was an army officer who served in India. On his return he enlisted with General Torrijos in a pro-freedom adventure. His final journey began in Gibraltar. From there, two ships set sail for Malaga, where they intended to encourage a liberal uprising to overthrow the monarchical absolutism of Ferdinand VII. On their arrival in Malaga they were betrayed by part of the mission on the other ship. They had to disembark in haste and flee to Cortijo del Conde de Mollina in Alhaurín de la Torre. Shortly afterwards they were captured.
On 11 December 1831 49 men were shot on the beach of San Andrés while shouting “freedom”. William Mark, British consul and founder of the English Cemetery, picked up Boyd’s body. He took him to his own home for burial the next day in the newly established cemetery.
Marjorie Grice-Hutchinson (1909-2003)
Economist and Hispanist based in Malaga. In the 1990s she was recognised as Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Malaga and the Complutense University of Madrid. She devoted a large part of her professional career to the study of Spanish and Medieval economic thought.
She is the one who narrates the macabre burial practices applied to Protestants in Malaga. She also tells us about the creation of the English Cemetery by William Mark. During the last years of her life she dedicated herself to looking after the cemetery, which she was particularly fond of.
Sailors and captain of the Gneisenau (1900)
The Gneisenau was a German frigate of almost 3 tons, with 14 guns, and was ready to accommodate 470 crew. On 16 December 1900, she was in the bay of Malaga to pick up a high-ranking German officer. Karl Kretschmann, the ship’s commander, had been advised to shelter the ship in the port of Malaga, as a storm was approaching. He believed the ship could ride out the storm, but the anchor lines broke and the ship struck the eastern breakwater.
41 men died on that tragic morning. Some of the sailors saved their lives, by moving along ropes thrown to them from land by the first Malagueños who arrived on the scene. In view of the show of courage shown by those Malagueños, the city earned the title of Very Hospitable, a text that appears on the current coat of arms. Years later, the German government paid for the construction of the Santo Domingo bridge after the tragic floods in Malaga in 1907.
PREPARE YOUR VISIT TO CAMPOSANTO INGLÉS
NIGHT VISIT TO THE ENGLISH CEMENTERY
With Andalucía 360 you can visit this amazing place by night. We offer a unique experience of 3 hours where, apart from visiting this cemetery, we will tour part of the city to discover the most terrifying mysteries, legends and paranormal events in the history of Malaga. The application of new technologies will make your experience even more special.
If you want to discover all the details of this route click on the following banner.
TIMES AND PRICES
If you prefer to visit the site on your own, the cemetery is open from 9:00 to 15:00 from Monday to Friday and from 10:30 to 15:00 from Saturday to Sunday. The basic entrance fee is €4.
HOW TO GET TO THE ENGLISH CEMETERY?
It is very close to the centre of Malaga (approximately 15 minutes), so walking is ideal. In this link we leave you the location in Google Maps of the English Cemetery. If you come by city bus (EMT, lines 3 and 11), you must get off at the Hotel Miramar stop.