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To celebrate History Week 2018, the City of Sydney History and Curatorial teams hosted City historian Dr Lisa Murray who led a fascinating combined talk and tour at Sydney Town Hall titled What Lies Beneath: The Old Sydney Burial Ground.

Attendees were first treated to a brilliantly illustrated talk by Dr Lisa Murray who charted the history of the Old Sydney Burial Ground which now lies beneath Sydney Town Hall. Also known as George Street Cemetery, it was the first official cemetery in Sydney, however by 1820, the cemetery was forced to close as it has reached its full capacity. Once closed to new burials the cemetery fell into disrepair, and the local council decided in the 1860s that the site could be re-purposed for a town hall. Since the 1970s, several archaeological discoveries have occurred and have uncovered items including brick vaults, reasonably intact grave plots, parts of headstones and skeletal remains.

Guests were then treated to an exclusive behind the scenes tour of Lower Town Hall, where we were able to stand upon the Old Sydney Burial Ground. We were also shown some of the artefacts which have been recovered from the site including partial headstones and newspaper clippings from which have documented the various archaeological discoveries at the site.

About Dr Lisa Murray, City Historian, City of Sydney

Lisa Murray is the City Historian, overseeing a diverse program at the City of Sydney Council encompassing community, civic and urban history. With 20 years of experience in the field of public history, Lisa is passionate about making our history accessible to everyone.

Recent publications include the award-winning Sydney Cemeteries: A Field Guide (NewSouth Publishing, 2016) and Our City: 175 Years in 175 Objects (City of Sydney, 2017). Lisa is currently writing a history and graveside companion for Australian cemeteries, to be published by the National Library of Australia.

Photo by Dr Mark Dunn

Thank you to Dr Lisa Murray and and the entire team at the City of Sydney for their hard work in bringing about this event.

This event was proudly presented as part of History Week 2018, supported by Create NSW.