Thursday, July 10, 2008

Goodbye, Church of the Angels

Behind the Church of the Angels a crypt is built into the hillside beneath the rectory. Kelly, who guided me through the church last week, wasn't quite sure of the crypt's history. No mention is made of it on the church's website. Someone out there may know.
The story goes that Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Robert Campbell-Johnston were buried there together, at least for a time. But Pasadena zoning laws don't allow burials, so the bodies were eventually moved. This may or may not be the case.**
Web research turned up very little, except an intriguing bit from Brompton Cemetery in London. Click on the link and scroll to the caption under the third photo.
'Alexander Robert Campbell Johnston
Who served many years in China
Under H.M. Foreign and Colonial Offices.
He died at San Rafael Ranch, Los Angeles
January 21st 1888 aged 75

In beloved memory
This stone is erected by his widow and children

Also to the memory of
Frances Ellen Campbell-Johnston
His beloved wife
Who died at 84 St. George's Sq. London
November 21 1893 Aged 56'

It could be them. And it doesn't say they were buried there. Did she die so soon after he did? Did she spend so little time admiring the chapel she'd built?
I tried looking into the crypt. It's not like you can tell if anyone's there.
It's their place. It was made for them. I hope they were allowed to stay.*

 
**1/26/2012: Much later! Update on this crypt: 
*It was not made for them.
In a book called "Within the Vale of Annandale" by Donald W. Crocker, a relatively rare but not impossible-to-find book first published in 1968, there's a short chapter about the church with pictures, very interesting, pp 38-42.
On page 40, Crocker says the "...memorial vault which was later added to the church...bears the remains of two of the Campbell-Johnston sons, Alexander Napier and Augustine, and Augustine's wife, Alice."
The book was "A Fund Raising Project of Scout Troop 35." It's an entertaining history of the southwest side of Pasadena, and Garvanza. I found it by searching online sellers.

29 comments:

Hilda said...

Oh dear, I hope they were allowed to stay too. =(

I love your shot! The reason why I'm here. Beautiful reflection, and the grills are lovely.

Aaron Proctor said...

Psssssst...you're in the PW.

Palm Axis said...

Petrea, I've completely enjoyed this back and forth series between you and Kelly. I guess you'll be leaving the bean fields now. Do come back and visit again. I'm still waiting to find out about the cross on the hill and like you, I too am curious about the crypt (and the symbols on it). I do believe that zoning law includes pets.

West Coast Grrlie Blather said...

I'm pretty sure they are not there. I'll check it out with Fr. Bob.

USelaine said...

Some day, a long, long time from now, exoskeletal archeaologists will excavate the site, and discover it was a fancy wine cellar.

Louis la Vache said...

Sacré bleu! Dining on "Louis's" relatives! Raw no less! "Louis" is shocked, SHOCKED! Not to mention outraged! “Louis” isn’t sure which is worse:
a) Eating his relatives raw!
b) Eathing his relatives cooked!
c) Eating his relatives at all!
or
d) All of the above

Quelle horreur!

“Louis’s” only comfort is that it wasn’t HIM on the plate!

Petrea said...

Hilda, I don't think they were, as Kelly says. It's my own wishful thinking.

Thank you, Aaron. I picked up about a million copies. I can't believe I got to be in color!

Thanks, Palm. I'll be back. All I have to do to find interesting things to photograph is get out of the car.

wcgb: I'd love to hear what Father Bob has to say about it. I'll bet he has the inside info.

Elaine, that woman could have bought some very fancy wine.

Katie said...

I wasn't sure what to expect when you said you'd feature the crypt; this is quite interesting. Beautiful door and I'm curious about the 3 circular symbols above the door. Thanks for sharing this love story! I do hope they're together.

USelaine said...

Hey, Aaron! Petrea! I wanna see!

Dina said...

The plot thickens...

Come on now, Petrea, don't let us die of curiosity. What did the paper write about you??

Petrea said...

I know, those symbols look sort of Masonic or cryptic or something. I wonder what they mean.

Elaine, Dina, thank you for wondering. Aaron did a "5 Questions" interview of me for the Pasadena Weekly. Tell you what. I'll scan it and put it up on my other blog and let you know when it's there.

Petrea said...

Okay, I put 5 Questions here. Tired of the pink shirt yet?

Miss Havisham said...

Hi Ryoko!

I'm thrilled to see you (Petrea!) in print, in color, in the Pasadena Weekly. This way, everybody gets to see your beautiful blue eyes.

West Coast Grrlie Blather said...

I got an e-mail from Fr. Bob about the crypt:

"I really don't know about the crypt. I don't know if there is someone buried there or not. It has a metal floor. Some time I ago, I looked through a small hole in the floor and could see water down below. I don't know if the grave is under the floor or what could be floating down there. The inside used to be covered with plaster, but the damp had caused the plaster to crumble and fall away. We had Baldo (the maintenance guy) clean it up several years ago and he took out the plaster and covered the walls with waterproofing material. After that we closed it and locked it. (Should I say, we threw away the key?) I'm sure I have it somewhere.

Over the past couple of years people have come by and asked first Leigh (he's the treasurer), then a few years later, me, about some legend of the Caves of Garvanza. We don't know what they are talking about, but some insist there was such a thing. Maybe you can make a connection."

So now we have 2 mysteries to solve! Paging Nancy Drew, paging Nancy Drew...

West Coast Grrlie Blather said...

The City of Pasadena was incorporated in 1886, and the church was built in 1889. If cemeteries have always been verboten in the City of Pasadena, there wouldn't be anyone in the crypt. But if city boundaries changed over time, it could be that San Rafael Ranch (or this part of it) was later included in the City of Pasadena. If that's the case, then maybe Alexander Robert Campbell Johnston was laid to rest there.

West Coast Grrlie Blather said...

The symbols on the crypt both refer to Jesus. Greek letters...

On the left: alpha and omega - Christ the beginning and the end.

On the right: chi rho - the first two letters of the Greek spelling of the word "Christ." Wikipedia says: "The earliest evidence of the Chi Rho symbol is Constantine's use of it on the labarum, the imperial standard, in the early 4th century CE."

Petrea said...

Oh Miss Havisham, my deah! I was pleasantly surprised to find myself in color!

WCBG: Thank you, thank you! Shall we pair up to solve the mystery? Let's seek out the Caves of Garvanza and take our cameras. And a picnic.

Life Observer said...

Luv the top pic of this post. 1 of your very best yet!
Studying your 200 page camera manual must be paying off!

Knoxville Girl said...

The combination of sun and shadow and the biscuit color of the crypt make a very attractive picture.
Sounds like you need the History Detectives from PBS. As Sherlock would say, "the game is afoot!"

Petrea said...

Thanks, guys!

Kaleb said...

Legend among the children of the church was that they WERE buried there and anyone who touched the crypt would "go with them". I suspect that was to keep tiny hands off of it. I also heard about ghosts and other such things.

My grandparents were under the impression that aforementioned folks were buried there, hush-hush, so no one admitted anything.

As Fr G said, there was talk of the caves, but no one was willing to do an investigation, due to the potential for finding bodies in violation of city codes. Let alone the cost.

So, there is sits.

Petrea said...

Great legend, Kaleb! I love the tale.

Anonymous said...

Hello there,

Was looking up a bit of history on the original Campbell-Johnson farm house my fiance and I just moved into, across the street from this beautiful church and came across this information: http://www.bob-taylor.com/angels.htm

Looks like they were never laid to rest in that tomb.

Petrea said...

Fascinating stuff, Anonymous. And it sound like you've found yourself a historical property to fall in love with. Congratulations!

Mike said...

This was my parents' church from the 60s to mid 70s (I was baptized there) and I have a nice little bound history of the church which dates to 1951. It has lots of info about the church.

Inside, in describing the memorial vault, it states that "provision was made for four interments, three of which have already been used". They are:

Alexander Napier Campbell-Johnston (1865-1907),

Augustine Campbell-Johnston (1858-1920), and

Alice Campbell-Johnston (1867-1942).

That was as of 1951. It also states that "in the vault is a marble tablet designating the names and above which can be seen the Campbell-Johnston coat of arms".

Anyway, I'm rather taken aback that this "Father Bob" doesn't know any of this.

Petrea said...

Fascinating, Mike. I'm putting out some feelers. This is the kind of thing I was referring to in the post when I said, "Someone out there may know." Thank you.

Petrea Burchard said...

For anyone still subscribed to this post, I've located information on who is buried in the crypt at Church of the Angels and updated the post with the information.

Anonymous said...

there is an enterance to the cave on the propety

Petrea Burchard said...

Anon, you must tell! Don't leave us hanging!

From reading "Within the Vale of Annandale," a history that includes that area, I was left with the impression that all caves thereabouts had been closed.