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  History of the Evangelical Reformed Church’s Cemetery at the Pinti Gate as it was published, December, 1877, by Gustave Dalgas, translated from the French
 
 

THE SWISS HISTORY OF THE 'ENGLISH' CEMETERY

IN FLORENCE
 

 
 


 

The foundation of the Evangelical Cemetery followed close on that of the Evangelical Reformed Church. It was in the year 1826 that the Evangelical faith was established for the first time in Florence. Following upon the initiatives made by His Excellency the Count of Waldburg-Truchsess, Ambassador at the Court of Tuscany, the Protestants established in Florence obtained from His Highness the Grand Duke Léopold II, the authorisation to celebrate their religion freely; they formed a religious congregation 3 July 1826, and after having achieved the means for giving to that institution the desired stability, they founded a church, under the name of ‘Eglise Evangélique Réformée’ (Reformed Evangelical Church), placed under the high patronage of His Majesty the King of Prussia, who had already generously contributed, at their request, an annual sum and accorded to their Pastor the title of Chaplain of his Legation.

The establishment of the church also required a special cemetery, for the burials of the inhabitants of the country were then under the control of the clergy, who admitted only those who practised the Roman Catholic religion. A request was made by the Directors of the new Church to the Grand Duke, for permission to found a Cemetery where our co-religionists, whom God pleased to call to Him, could be laid to rest suitably, sparing the expense and the inconvenience of transporting the bodies to the Protestant cemeteries of Livorno, as they had had to carry out until then. In this request they designated as a suitable location for their need some land belonging to the State, situated outside the Pinti Gate, against the medieval city wall and which produced no revenue.

This request, presented also through His Excellency, the Prussian Ambassador, was agreed to by Decree of the Grand Duke 14 September 1827, and, following that, was stipulated in the contract, drawn up by the Notary Redi, dated 19 October 1827, entered into between Horace Hall, Coith and Bisenzi, as representatives of the Reformed Evangelical Church, on the one hand, and the Commander Sergardi, Director of the Administration of State Properties, on the other, a contract in which a parcel of land situated between the Pinti and Croce gates, measuring 24,080 square yards (nearly 8000 metres) was mortgaged for the announced purpose, through paying 140 Florentine pounds (118 francs) annually. In the preliminaries of this act the text states: “The members of the Consistory of the Reformed faith established in Florence, encouraged by the graciousness with which His Highness had deigned to permit them to open in this city a church for the practice of their religion, consider acquiring a place where they can lay to rest in a fitting manner their co-religionists, whom the will of God has destined to conclude their earthly existence in the city of Florence or its surroundings. Matching this pious desire with their financial means, they turn their looks upon a plot of land owned by the government, and present their humble supplications that the said land could be ceded to them with a mortgage for the above declared purpose.”

In the disposition of the Contract it is explicitly repeated that the said mortgage is made with the specific aim that this land serve as cemetery for the burial of persons belonging to the Reformed faith, who will die in the city of Florence or in its surroundings.

The total expenses for the construction of the Cemetery consisting of the retaining wall, the posts for the entry gates, the drainage ditches, stone benches, the terracing and arranging of the earth, the paths, the plants, the funeral drapes, etc., came to the sum of 15,214 Florentine pounds (nearly 13000 francs). This sum was attained through an outright subscription amongst the Protestants living in Florence, who produced 3400 francs, augmented by the generous gifts of His Majesty the King of Prussia and His Majesty the King of Wurtemberg, along with the Swiss Cantons of Zurich, Vaud, Berne, Argovie, Bale, Grisons, Thurgovie, Appenzel and Neuchatel, and was finally completed by a contribution from the Committee of the Anglican Church, which had come also to be established in Florence, from the result of collections made from particular persons in Geneva and in Berne, and from the gifts of those passing through Florence. The work began in the month of November 1827 and was finished during 1828.

The Cemetery of the Porta a’ Pinti, as property of the Reformed Evangelical Church instituted in Florence under the protection of the King of Prussia, was the only place near the city where those Christians who did not belong to the Roman Church could bury their dead, being open to Protestants of all denominations and nationalities. The English Church contributed a sum of 5000 Tuscan pounds at the foundation of the Cemetery, with the condition that their members could be buried at the same price as were the members of the proprietory Church. The direction of the Cemetery was disposed liberally with a unique tarif for all the Protestants without distinction of nationality, and formed two classes for adapting to disparity in wealth: it always provided free burial to the poor belonging to our Church and even to the pauper Protestants passing through.

The proportion of the dead of English and American nationalities being in general the most considerable, the population attributed to our Cemetery the incorrect title of the ‘English Cemetery’.

Even the Russians, and other members of the Eastern Orthodox Church whom the Roman Church rejected, despite their great closeness in faith, were accepted into our God’s Acre.

A historical event concerning our Cemetery which ought not to be passed over in silence occurred immediately after its founding. One morning the ground was found dug up, the flowers uprooted, the bushes and the hedges stamped down and the tombs partly turned over. This profanation was the work of people who had climbed the surrounding wall by night, profiting from the lack of a custodian living in the Cemetery. The authors of this evil deed, evidently inspired by fanaticism, were never discovered: one could believe they were inspired by the preaching of a part of the clergy, opposed to the enlightened and liberal tendencies of the government of the Grand Duke. I can’t precisely date the details but they were given to me somewhat vaguely by the Custodian D. Soccé, now dead. The deed was never repeated, and one could even say that our coreligionists and our institutions were always regarded benevolently on the part of the population and the government.

After twenty years in use, the Church’s administration, which had augmented the buildings of the Cemetery with the construction of a mortuary chapel, seeing that the state of its finances permitted this, thought it was time to relieve themselves of the annual mortgage payments and to acquire the title outright of the land of the Cemetery by paying the corresponding capital as required according to the laws of the State concerning mortgages. This decision was accomplished through a contract dated 23 April 1847, drawn up by the notary Redi, between the Secretary of the Administration of State Properties on the one hand, and Monsieur Gonin and Pastor Droin, representing the Consistory on the other, and by handing over a sum of 3571 Florentine pounds (nearly 3000 francs) on the capitalisation of the 4½ per cent of the annual mortgage. In the text of the new contract, reference is made to the preceding one of 1827, and it repeats explicitly that the land was ceded by the Tuscan government.

As time passed, naturally, more and more people came to rest in our God’s Acre. These were always treated with great care and the considerable number of monuments, of which some are valuable in terms of art, erected by the piety of the survivors for their dear ones, contributed, with the charm of its situation, to render it a place worthy of being brought to the attention of travellers visiting Florence, and it brought honour to the Evangelical faith in the eyes of the inhabitants of the country. Among the monuments which embellished it one should note that of the Englishman Samuel C. Routh, who died in 1860, on which was placed the statue of Hope, the masterpiece of the Florentine sculptor Fantacchiotti. His Majesty Frederic William IV King of Prussia, during his stay in this city in 1859, visited our cemetery and wanting to contribute to its embellishment and to confirm at the same time the protection which he had always accorded to our church, with truly royal generosity, commanded the erection at his expense of the marble column surmounted by a cross which rises in the highest part of our poetic necropolis.

The revenues of the Cemetery, produced by applying a very modest and fair tarif, as we have already said, for the members of the Church and for the foreigners, grew slowly to a considerable sum; this augmented the resources of the Church and was used, deductions being made for the expenses of the Cemetery itself, for the expenses of the faith. These were, in large part, used to help with improving the Church’s institution, to procure a fitting place for the celebration of its belief, to raise the salary of the Pastor, and to call a second one for the German-speaking part of the congregation. The administration was carried out for the Church by a committee of three members, of whom the President and the Treasurer of the Consistory made up the legal part, and a third member, having the title of Inspector of the Cemetery, carried out the administrative details. His responsibilites were explicitly regulated by the ‘Regulations for the Cemetery of the Reformed Evangelical Church’, drafted and put in force by the Consistory on the 2 and 15 of February 1852, regulations which were then confirmed with the new ‘Regulations and Statues of the Reformed Evangelical Church of Florence’ 10 December 1861, and again by the ‘Renewed Statutes’ of the said Church, on 1 June 1868. The functions of the Cemetery’s Inspector were entrusted successively to François Müller, Charles Wital (who died during his term of office), A. Gonin, Louis Gilli senior, Adolphe Du Fresne senior, Claude Stupan.

Forseeing a time, still in the distant future, when our Cemetery’s space would become inadequate for its tombs, and in view also of its shape needing completion and the boundaries regularised, a piece of land was joined to it, also owned by the government which formed an esplanade in front of the entrance gate, whose surface measured 2719 yards (nearly 900 square metres). This purchase was made in 1860, after the cessation of the Grand-Ducal government and when Tuscany was governed in the name of King Victor Emmanuel, without being definitively joined to His Majesty’s State. In the contract, written by the Notary Spighi, 11 February 1860, signed by  Count Cambray Digny, director of the Administration of State Properties, and by Adolphe Du Fresnes and Frédéric Wagnière, delegates of the Consistory, the price of this land was established at 789 (662 francs) Florentine pounds and the express clause was inserted: “that it must be surrounded by a wall and joined to the Cemetery of the Reformed faith to become an integral part”.

The expenses of the construction and others for incorporating this new land came to more than 4500 francs, and was covered, along with the purchase price, by the Church’s Treasury. But it was decreed that the foresight which counselled this enlargement would become superfluous. The political changes which ended the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, absorbing it into the new Kingdom of Italy, brought about a modernisation of the laws. The law on public health, which came into force, 1 July 1865, effectively closed our Cemetery, for article 71 of the Regulation added to this Law, forbade cemeteries to be within 100 metres of cities and towns. But article 71 of the same Regulation established that there should be means for allowance regarding existing cemeteries, nursing the hope during a long period of tolerance, the limited number of burials not seeming to create a danger to the city’s public health at the city wall behind which one found our cemetery.

But the move of the Italian Government to Florence created the need for enlarging the city, in which already the ordinary population found themselves restricted, and the Municipality decided to demolish the medieval city walls on the right bank of the Arno, to subsitute there a great boulevard flanked by buildings, making it too evident that our Cemetery could not avoid the next suppression. Our congregation’s members meanwhile continued to hope that they would not be dispossessed of their graveyard, with acquiring another fitting place for the same purpose and being indemnified of all the expenses which the change would occasion.

[Paraphrase of next section follows: It was thought that space would be given for free, expenses being paid, at San Miniato al Monte, 1868, but the Junta refused on the grounds of the expenses involved and also on the grounds of not mixing together Catholics and non-Catholics. 20 January 1869 the Sindicate voted 26,000 lire to arrange for the Trespiano Cemetery to give a separate part for the burial of the Protestant dead. On the 22 January 1869 the Municipal Counsel voted that burials were prohibited in the territory of the City of Florence, except at San Miniato al Monte.]

These deliberations were a dreadful shock to our Congregation. It was not necessary to use many words to prove that the place to which they wished to assign us, at Trespiano, could in no way be accepted as a substitute for our beautiful Cemetery, so well managed and solemn in its simplicity. The considerable distance, the difficulty of access through a long and steep route, made it difficult for the families to visit and care for the tombs in the deserted and wild locality, where nothing would inspire the religious respect for the tombs, which was reputed amongst the Florentines themselves as like a field of desolation, and where the poorest only were buried without monuments, without grave stones, as if condemned to being forever forgotten, so that the families having any means for giving honourable burial to their dead, buried them at San Miniato al Monte which was conserved, but only for Catholic burials. The Consistory did not fail to ask if an indemnity could not be awarded to the Church for its Cemetery’s suppression, and whether the Minicipality could be forced legally to restore what had been taken; but the advice of one of the most renowned lawyers in the city, consulted about this, was that the suppression of the urban cemeteries was decreed by law and for public health, therefore it gave no right to an indemnity in favour of the proprietory corporations of the places so shut down; and that the Municipality was accomplishing all that it was obliged to by the laws of the kingdom, in furnishing a place for the non-Catholic burials, in placing them in its principal Cemetery.

It was thus clear that our Church had to make sacrifices in order to avoid the unacceptable move to Trespiano, and to assume the expenses of another graveyard. But the difficulties and the expenses to carry out such a project presented a grave burden for the congregation. Thus was the preposition made that we should associate with other corporations for the same object of common concern. The local Evangelicals, in favour of the new laws which recognised their freedom of conscience, could organise their congregations and their churches, and had even begun the building of a Cemetery near Florence. The enlarging of this city following the removal to it of the Capital, brought about also the suppression of this Cemetery even while it was in construction; so that the indemnity which was given them by the city for the expropriation of land and for the half-completed buildings came to the sum of 21,000 Italian lire with which they proposed to dedicate to the same object, acquiring elsewhere a suitable place for entombing their co-religionists. The English and Scottish Churches established in the city, on their part, also considered contributing to this work which involved them similarly.

It was proposed that our congregation join these others to undertake together the construction of a cemetery for the Evangelicals. Our Consistory, after considerable reflection, and having realised that the circumstances were now very different than in the time of the Grand Ducal concession, when our Church was the only evangelical one in Florence, and that it would be very difficult to obtain the consent and the support of the authorities for a new cemetery for ourselves exclusively, decided to accept the proposition that the new Evangelical Cemetery to be founded, should not, like the former one, be its exclusive property, but belonging to the union of the different Protestant churches. The first meeting of the delegates of these churches took place 18 February 1869, and, in the following sessions on the 22 and 25 of that same month, the bases for the accord were established. The municipal authority showed itself favorable to the project and disposed to grant to the union of the Churches the goal they proposed, a part of the sum voted for the works they would have carried out at Trespiano, the place which all had repulsed with one accord. A committee was formed to carry out the deliberations of the different united Churches, and began by seeking out suitable land. Our Consistory named as its representatives on this committee, Pastor Franel, Claude Stupani and Gustave Dalgas; Pastor Franel then left Florence and was replaced by his successor Pastor André. We pass over in this account the acts of the committee formed for the new Cemetery, the numerous unceasing difficulties that arose with which it had to struggle, and which caused its existence to be drawn out over several years while it came to achieve its goal. While it began its search for suitable land, the work of enlarging the city continued, the medieval walls being torn down, the beautiful quarter of the Mattonaia rising near our Cemetery, the part of the city wall against which it rested only left standing and seeming to invoke the demolitionists’ hammer; the company which had assumed the enterprise of the enlarging of the city making pressing requests that this sole surviving obstacle be razed. Only the plan of the engineer Poggi, adopted by the Municipality, the large boulevard with which he substituted the ancient city walls, and which parted in two, preserved it as a monumental hill. The land which it occupied was raised above the surrounding terrain, needing to be supported in part by the rock walls, and surrounded all about its perimeter with a new supporting wall, surmounted by an iron railing. These works tending to the embellishment of the city were at the charge of the Municipality; these plans having been communicated to the Consistory, proposing even to pay for them at their own expense at the established price, which the Consistory happily accepted, having found a trusted subcontractor, who engaged to carry them out at this price and even with a small rebate which enabled them to cover the expenses of their surveillance. One would think rightly that these works, which included the demolition of the part of the high and solid walls surrounding the city against which leaned the Cemetery’s land, and which required the use of gunpowder, were carried out under the direction of the Consistory, it having the guarantee that the interior arrangement of the Cemetery be respected and the tombs and plants be disturbed as lightly as possible.

These works began during the year 1869 and were achieved in 1879. Their execution was overseen in the interest of the Consistory by the engineer Pierre Ganzoni, actually a member of our Consistory. The sum obtained of the Comune and paid to the Consistory for this project was 31,671,18 Italian lire, of which the sum did not cover the iron railings which were paid for directly by the Municipality. The requirements of the regulated plan after which the work was carried out brought about an enlarging of the Cemetery on the South side, while a segment was taken from the North East side.

On this side taken from our Cemetery were 18 tombs and bodies, which had to be transferred to another part of the graveyard. This lugubrious operation was done with all care and requisite control and with the assistance of the minister of the Anglican faith and with our Pastor, at the moment when the corpses were placed in their new dwellings. On the occasion of the work it was decided by the Consistory to enlarge the building of the chapel and the mortuary chamber, so as to arrange for the lodging of a custodian and his family, as we have earlier noted the inconvenience of not having a custodian living on the premises, and it was thought that once the suppression was achieved, a gardener would happily accept the place of custodian and receive, as payment, the lodging. The sum of 3,500 lires was voted for this construction which figures in the accounts of the Church of 1870, but which was found to be 700 lire less than the actual expense; and a sum of 2000 Italian lire was carried over into the budget of 1871, representing the remainder of this expense and of others indispensable for the putting in good order the considerable works needed to be carried out and which gave it its present form. The construction of the custodian’s house and other works were also carried out by the Engineer Garzoni.

We must go back in our steps and recall that the burials should have ceased in the Porta a’ Pinti Cemetery in the year 1869. The Municipality had meant this, but nothing was yet ready in replacement. The committee of the different Churches, after much research, became convinced of the impossibility of finding suitable land in the territories of the Florentine Comune, determined upon purchasing the farm of the Allori in the Comune of Galluzzo at its boundary with that of Florence; but the consent of the superior authorities for the establishing of a cemetery in this place, though it had been promised before the purchase, did not come and the Municipality of Florence did not even dream of carrying out the works determined by the Counsel as an annex to the comunal Cemetery at Trespiano. The month of December came and it was not known what to do. It went as far as making the proposal to arrange for a place among the moats of the ancient fortress of San Miniato al Monte, where the monumental Catholic cemetery could keep the bodies until they could be placed in the new planned Cemetery. This strange preposition met with the most energetic resistance on the part of our consistory, as from all the Protestants established in Florence. Finally, at the last moment, the Municipal Administration decided to grant permission to continue the burials in the Porta a’ Pinti Cemetery, but only as a temporary concession, revocable at any moment, and on condition that all the cadavres be enclosed in metal coffins, which increased the cost of burial greatly, particularly for the paupers. This provisional, revocable concession and which was happily accepted in the anguish of the moment, prolonged the active existence of our Cemetery by nearly eight years. The opposition at first of the Galluzzo Comune, which did not believe it should accept on its territory a cemetery in the service of another comune, immediately followed by the project formed by the city of Florence for a new necropolis at the Certosa, in which would be assigned special areas for all the groups, all the confessions of faith, which would eliminate the need for a special cemetery for us: then, this plan once abandoned, the new difficulties in obtaining the consent of the Municipality of Galluzzo and finally all the oppositions, all the appeals of the property owners of the comune, addressed to the Counsel of Ministers and even to the King, when the decision of the Comune was favorable; all these circumstances which themselves could form the subject of a long history, kept the matter up in the air, and it was only by a ministerial decree on 31 July 1877 that the definitive and irrevocable consent was given for the construction of the new Evangelical Cemetery at the Allori. During this time the use of our cemetery continued under the new conditions imposed by the Municipality, despite the ill will of the landowners around it, who never ceased speaking against the tolerance of the Municipality: these, one must say, in selling the lands on which these buildings were raised little by little and which surrounded the Cemetery, were continually engaged in opposing the burials. Our congregation profited from this long respite and the revenues of the Cemetery which accumulated during these years were a precious resource to the Church’s Treasury, and were put aside for the considerable costs which the new Cemetery would cause. Meanwhile, the time for the final closure came: after long conflicts held with the local landholders by the comune, a sentence of the Tribunal, decreed at the end of April, imposed absolutely the cessation of burials from the end of the month of September, under enormous penalties to be paid to the Municipality. This ruling was the hardest to bear, following the latest oppositions of the Galluzzo inhabitants, and was rejected only by a ministerial decree dated 31 July, so that the work of the new Cemetery could only begin shortly after the closure of the old one. It was impossible to obtain a brief prolongation of the use of our Cemetery, even until the new one was in fit state to begin the burials, a requirement which seemed most reasonable that it was not the fault of the Committee if the work of the new Cemetery could have begun three months earlier and could have pushed forward during the most favourable months. As a temporary measure a place was arranged in the public mortuary of St Catherine, so that the cadavres of Evangelical Christians could be deposited in the interval, then to take them to the new graveyard. The work of this was carried out as quickly as possible, but this was contrary to the bad weather of the season: one could meanwhile hope with reason that in a few weeks a part of the new Cemetery would be ready to permit the first burials.
 

This is the state of things in December 1877. The total number of bodies buried in the Cemetery now suppressed at the Porta a’ Pinti is 1409. The first to be buried there was Jean Marc Gonin, son of Jean Pierre Gonin, one of the founders of the Church, died, at the age of 16, 14 January 1828. The last burial is that of Elise Bossé, born at Riga in 1822, died 24 September 1877. I complete this account with a note on the distinguished people, with various titles, who rest in one of the ornaments of this city of Florence, and which will remain for ever as a title of honour for our religious congregation.
 

List of distinguished people buried in the Reformed Evangelical Church’s Cemetery in Florence by the former Porta a’ Pinti:

Charles Müller, Berne, painter, †1882
Jean Claude, Comte de Lagersvärd, Sweden, diplomat, †1836
Sir George Baillie Hamilton, Scotland, diplomat, †1850
Thomas Tod, Edinburgh, diplomat, †1851
Hugh James Rose, England, theologian, †1859
Solomon Counis, Geneva, painter, †1859
Rev. Theodore Parker, America, theologian, †1860
Southwood Smith, England, physician, †1861
Mrs Elizabeth Barrett Browning, England, poet, †1861
Rear Admiral Edward Augustus Frankland, England, †1861
Jean Pierre Vieusseux, Switzerland, editor, †1863
Severinus Goedke, Poland, liberator, †1864
Walter Savage Landor, England, poet, †1864
Mrs Theodosia Trollope, England, author, †1865
Luigi Desanctis, Italy, Catholic priest converted to Evangelicism, †1869
Constant Jacottet, founder of journal ‘L’Italie, †1870
Jean Pierre Revel, theologian, †1871
Rosa Pulini Madiai, Evangelical, †1871
Baron Paul de Villestreux, France, diplomat, †1871
Hiram Powers, America, sculptor, †1873
Johann Schmid, Canton de Turgovie, pastor, †1874
Salvatore Ferretti, Florence, philanthrpist, †1874
Sir David Dumbreck, K.C.B., England, physician, †1876
Joel T. Hart, America, sculptor, †1877

_________________

Appendix: Expenses of the 'English' and Allori Cemeteries in the Ottocento

Financial Excerpts from Dalgas on the Porta a' Pinti Cemetery:

This request, presented also through His Excellency, the Prussian Ambassador, was agreed to by Decree of the Grand Duke 14 September 1827, and, following that, was stipulated in the contract, drawn up by the Notary Redi, dated 19 October 1827, entered into between Horace Hall, Coith and Bisenzi, as representatives of the Reformed Evangelical Church, on the one hand, and Commander Sergardi, Director of the Administration of State Properties, on the other, a contract in which a parcel of land situated between the Pinti and Croce gates, measuring 24,080 square yards (nearly 8000 metres) was mortgaged for the announced purpose, through paying 140 Florentine pounds (118 francs) annually.

La richiesta, presentata anche con la medizaione di S.E. il ministro residente di Prussia, fu accolta con decreto del granduca il 14 settembre 1827. Di conseguenza, fu stipolato il contratto davanti al notaio Redi, in data 19 ottobre 1827, tra i signori Horace Hall, Coith e Bisenzi, come rappresentanti del concistoro delle Chiesa Evangelica Riformata, da una parte, e il commendatore Segardi, dirrettore dell'amministrazione delle proprietà dello Stato, dall'altra. Mediante il contratto fu ceduto in enfiteusi, per lo scopo enunciato, un terreno situato fuori la città di Firenze, tra le porte di Pinti e della Croce, della misura di 24080 braccia quadrate (quasi 8000 metri), per la rendita annuale di 140 Lire fiorentino (118 franchi).
. . .

The total expenses for the construction of the Cemetery consisting of the retaining wall, the posts for the entry gates, the drainage ditches, stone benches, the terracing and arranging of the earth, the paths, the plants, the funeral drapes, etc., came to the sum of 15,214 Florentine pounds (nearly 13000 francs). This sum was attained through an outright subscription amongst the Protestants living in Florence, who produced 3400 francs, augmented by the generous gifts of His Majesty the King of Prussia and His Majesty the King of Wurtemberg, along with the Swiss Cantons of Zurich, Vaud, Berne, Argovie, Bale, Grisons, Thurgovie, Appenzel and Neuchatel, and was finally completed by a contribution from the Committee of the Anglican Church, which had come also to be established in Florence, from the result of collections made from particular persons in Geneva and in Berne, and from the gifts of those passing through Florence. The work began in the month of November 1827 and was finished during 1828.

La spesa totale per la costruzione del cimitero, che comprende le mura di cinta, la costruzione della porta dell'ingresso, i canali di drenaggio, le panchine in pietra, il livellamento e la predispozione del terreno, i viali, le piante, il drappo funebre, ecc., ammontarono a 15214 Lire fiorentine (circa 13000 franchi). La somma fu raccolta mediante una sottoscrizione aperta tra i protestanti domiciliati a Firenze, che fruttò 3400 franchi, alla quale si aggiunsero i doni generosi di S.M. il re di Prussia e di S.M. il re di Wurtemberg, quelli dei cantoni svizzeri di Zurigo, Vaud, Berna, Argovia, Basilea, Grigioni, Turgovia, Appenzell e Neuchâtel. Infine, fu completata del contributo del comitato della Chiesa Anglicana, che si stava costituendo a Firenze, dalle collette fatte tra privati a Ginevra e Berna e dalle oblazioni di protestanti di passaggio a Firenze. I lavori, iniziati nel mese di novembre 1827, furono terminati nel corso dell'anno 1828.

The Cemetery of the Porta a’ Pinti, as property of the Reformed Evangelical Church instituted in Florence under the protection of the King of Prussia, was the only place near the city where those Christians who did not belong to the Roman Church could bury their dead, being open to Protestants of all denominations and nationalities. The English Church contributed a sum of 5,000 Tuscan pounds at the foundation of the Cemetery, with the condition that their members could be buried at the same price as were the members of the proprietory Church. The direction of the Cemetery was disposed liberally with a unique tarif for all the Protestants without distinction of nationality, and formed two classes for adapting to disparity in wealth: it always provided free burial to the poor belonging to our Church and even to the pauper Protestants passing through.

Il cimitero di Porta a' Pinti, sebbene proprietà esclusiva della Chiesa Evangelica Riformata, istituita a Firenze sotto la protezione del re di Prussia, essendo il solo luogo nei pressi della città dove credenti non appartenenti alla Chiesa Romana potessero inumare decorosamente i loro defunti, è stato aptero ai protestanti di ogni denominacione e nazionalità. La Chiesa Anglicana, contribuendo alla fondazione con una somma di 5000 Lire toscane, pose come condizione che i cittadini inglesi fossero seppelliti alle stesse condizioni dei membri della chiesa proprietaria. La direzione del cimitero stabilì una tariffa unica per tutti i protestanti, senza distinzione di nazionalità, e creò due classi di sepoltura tenendo conto delle differenti condizioni economiche delle famiglie. Ma ha sempre provveduto alla inumazione gratuita degli indigenti appartenenti alla chiesa e dei protestanti poveri di passaggio.
. . .

After twenty years in use, the Church’s administration, which had augmented the buildings of the Cemetery with the construction of a mortuary chapel, seeing that the state of its finances permitted this, thought it was time to relieve themselves of the annual mortgage payments and to acquire the title outright of the land of the Cemetery by paying the corresponding capital as required according to the laws of the State concerning mortgages. This decision was accomplished through a contract dated 23 April 1847, drawn up by the notary Redi, between the Secretary of the Administration of State Properties on the one hand, and Monsieur Gonin and Pastor Droin, representing the Consistory on the other, and by handing over a sum of 3571 Florentine pounds (nearly 3000 francs) on the capitalisation of the 4½ per cent of the annual mortgage. In the text of the new contract, reference is made to the preceding one of 1827, and it repeats explicitly that the land was ceded by the Tuscan government.

Dopo vent'anni di esercizio, la direzione della chiesa che aveva già ampliata la parte muraria con la costruzione della cappella e della camera mortuaria, considerato che la situazione finanziaria lo consentiva, ritenne che fosse giunto il tempo di liberarsi dell'enfiteusi e di acquistare la libera e assoluta proprietà del terreno del cimitero, pagando la somma corrispondente, come previsto dalle norme dello Stato in materia di enfiteusi. L'operazione avvenne tramite la stipula del contratto il 23 aprile 1847, firmato davanti al notaio Redi, tra il segretario dell'ammistrazione della proprietà dello Stato da una parte, e dal Gonin e dal pastore Droin dall'altra, e con l'esborso della somma di 3571 Lire fiorentine (all'incirca 3000 franchi) sulla capitalizazione al 4,5% del canone annuale. Nel testo del nuovo contratto si faceva riferimento al precedente del 1827, e veniva ripetuto esplicitamente l'oggetto particolare ed esclusivo per il quale il terreno era stato ceduto dal governo toscano.
. . .

The revenues of the Cemetery, produced by applying a very modest and fair tarif, as we have already said, for the members of the Church and for the foreigners, grew slowly to a considerable sum; this augmented the resources of the Church and was used, deductions being made for the expenses of the Cemetery itself, for the expenses of the faith. These were, in large part, used to help with improving the Church’s institution, to procure a fitting place for the celebration of its belief, to raise the salary of the Pastor, and to call a second one for the German-speaking part of the congregation. The administration was carried out for the Church by a committee of three members, of whom the President and the Treasurer of the Consistory made up the legal part, and a third member, having the title of Inspector of the Cemetery, carried out the administrative details. His responsibilites were explicitly regulated by the ‘Regulations for the Cemetery of the Reformed Evangelical Church’, drafted and put in force by the Consistory on the 2 and 15 of February 1852, regulations which were then confirmed with the new ‘Regulations and Statues of the Reformed Evangelical Church of Florence’ 10 December 1861, and again by the ‘Renewed Statutes’ of the said Church, on 1 June 1868.

La resa finanziaria del cimitero, prodotta dall'applicazione di una tariffa molto modesta e uguale per tutti, come è stato già detto, tanto per i membri di chiesa quanto per gli estranei, a poco a poco si elevò fino a raggiungere una somma considerevole, che veniva impiegata, dedotte le spese di finanziamento del cimitero, per il mantenimento del culto. Grazie in gran parte al sostegno di questo contributo, la chiesa ha potuto migliorare la sua istituzione: procurarsi un locale più adatto, aumentare l'onorario del suo primo pastore e chiamarne un secondo par la parte della comunità di nazionalità e lingua tedesca. La direzione del cimitero fu affidata dal concistoro ad una commissione di tre membri, della quale il presidente e il cassiere del concistoro facevano parte di diritto, mentre il terzo membrom con il titolo di ispettore, si occupava delle questione amministrative. Le sue attribuzioni erano regolate esplicitamente dal "regolamento del cimitero della Chiesa Evangelica Riformata", redatto ed approvato dal concistoro in data 2 e 15 febbraio 1852. Esso fu confermato dal nuovo "statuto regolamento della Chiesa Evangelica Riformata di Firenze" del 10 dicembre 1861 e, in seguoto, dallo "statuto rinnovato", di detta chiesa in data 1° giugno 1868. . . .

Forseeing a time, still in the distant future, when our Cemetery’s space would become inadequate for its tombs, and in view also of its shape needing completion and the boundaries regularised, a piece of land was joined to it, also owned by the government which formed an esplanade in front of the entrance gate, whose surface measured 2719 yards (nearly 900 square metres). This purchase was made in 1860, after the cessation of the Grand-Ducal government and when Tuscany was governed in the name of King Victor Emmanuel, without being definitively joined to His Majesty’s State. In the contract, written by the Notary Spighi, 11 February 1860, signed by  Count Cambray Digny, director of the Administration of State Properties, and by Adolphe Du Fresnes and Frédéric Wagnière, delegates of the Consistory, the price of this land was established at 789 (662 francs) Florentine pounds and the express clause was inserted: “that it must be surrounded by a wall and joined to the Cemetery of the Reformed faith to become an integral part”.

Tuttavia, in previsione che, nel futuro ancora lontano, il cimitero sarebbe diventato insufficiente alle sepolture, e in vista anche del completamento della forma e della definizione dei contorni, fu possibile aggiungervi una parte di terreno, anch'essa di proprietà del governo, che formava come una spianata davanti alla porta d'ingresso, di una estensione di superficie di 2719 braccia (pressappoco 900 metri quadrati). L'accordo fu concluso nel 1860, dopo la cessazione del governo granducale, quando la Toscana si autogovernava in nome del re Vittorio Emanuele, senza essere stata definitivamente annessa agli stati di S.M. Nel contratto, redatto dal notaio Spighi l'11 febbraio 1860, firmato dal Conte di Cambray Digny, direttore dell'amministrazione delle proprietà dello Stato, e dai signori Adolphe Du Fresne e Frédéric Wagnière, delegati del concistoro, il prezzo del terreno fu stabilito in £789 (662 frs.), e vi fu inserita la clausola espressa "che doveva essere recintato da un muro ed unito al cimitero del culto riformato come parte integrante".

The expenses of the construction and others for incorporating this new land came to more than 4500 francs, and was covered, along with the purchase price, by the Church’s Treasury. But it was decreed that the foresight which counselled this enlargement would become superfluous. The political changes which ended the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, absorbing it into the new Kingdom of Italy, brought about a modernisation of the laws. The law on public health, which came into force, 1 July 1865, effectively closed our Cemetery, for article 71 of the Regulation added to this Law, forbade cemeteries to be within 100 metres of cities and towns. But article 73 of the same Regulation established that there should be means for allowance regarding existing cemeteries, nursing the hope during a long period of tolerance, the limited number of burials not seeming to create a danger to the city’s public health at the city wall behind which one found our cemetery.

Il costo dei vari lavori, compreso quello per incorporare il nuovo terreno, ammontò a più di 4500 franchi, che fu coperto, come quello d'acquisto, dalla cassa della chiesa. Ma da qualche parte era scritto che la previsione, che aveva suggerito l'ampliamento, dovesse risultare sbagliata. I rivolgimenti politici che fecero scomparire il granducato di Toscana e che comportarono la sua annessione al nuovo regno d'Italia, recarono sensibili cambiamenti nella legislazione. La legge sulla salute pubblica, che entrò in vigore nel luglio del 1865, decretava virtualmente la soppressione del nostro cimitero. L'articolo 71 del regolamento, annesso alla legge, prescriveva che i cimiteri dovessero essere ad una distanza minima di 100 metri dalle città e dalle borgate. Ma dato che l'articolo 73 dello stesso regolamento stabiliva che ai cimiteri esistenti si sarebba provveduto mediante disposizioni speciali, ci si cullava nella speranza di un lungo periodo di tolleranza; anche perché, il limitato numero delle inumazioni non sembrava costituire un pericolo sanitario per la città. al cui muro di cinta il nostro cimitero era addossato.
. . .

[Paraphrase of next section follows: It was thought that space would be given for free, expenses being paid, at San Miniato al Monte, 1868, but the Junta refused on the grounds of the expenses involved and also on the grounds of not mixing together Catholics and non-Catholics. 20 January 1869 the Sindicate voted 26,000 lire to arrange for the Trespiano Cemetery to give a separate part for the burial of the Protestant dead. On the 22 January 1869 the Municipal Counsel voted that burials were prohibited in the territory of the City of Florence, except at San Miniato al Monte.]
. . .

The local Evangelicals, in favour of the new laws which recognised their freedom of conscience, could organise their congregations and their churches, and had even begun the building of a Cemetery near Florence. The enlarging of this city following the removal to it of the Capital, brought about also the suppression of this Cemetery even while it was in construction; so that the indemnity which was given them by the city for the expropriation of land and for the half-completed buildings came to the sum of 21,000 Italian lire with which they proposed to dedicate to the same object, acquiring elsewhere a suitable place for entombing their co-religionists. The English and Scottish Churches established in the city, on their part, also considered contributing to this work which involved them similarly.

Gli evangelici indigeni, favoriti delle nuove leggi che riconoscevano la libertà di coscienza, avevano istituito il loro culto e organizzate le loro chiese, e avevano anch'esse iniziato ad edificare un cimitero nelle vicinanze di Firenze. L'ampliamento della città, a causa del trasferimento della capitale, comporto la soppressione anche del loro cimitero, quando era ancora in costruzione. Tuttavia, il riarcimento ottenuto per l'espropriazione del terreno e della costruzione non ancora ultimata, che ammontava a £21000 italiene, fu dalle dette chiese mantenuto per il medesimo scopo, quello di costruire, sia pure altrove, un luogo di sepoltura dei loro correligionari. La Chiesa Anglicana e la Chiesa Scozzese, stabilite in città, intendevano anche loro contribuire a quest'opera comune a cui erano ugualmente interessate.
. . .

The municipal authority showed itself favorable to the project and disposed to grant to the union of the Churches the goal they proposed, a part of the sum voted for the works they would have carried out at Trespiano, the place which all had repulsed with one accord. A committee was formed to carry out the deliberations of the different united Churches, and began by seeking out suitable land.

Le autorità comunali si mostrarono favorevoli al progetto e disposte a cedere all'insieme delle chiese, per lo scopo che si proponevano, una parte della somma destinata al progetto da realizzare bel cimitero di Trespiano, località che tutti rifiutarono di comune accordo.  Per dare corso alle decisioni delle chiese fu costituito un comitato, che iniziò la sua attività con la ricerca di un terreno adeguato.

While it began its search for suitable land, the work of enlarging the city continued, the medieval walls being torn down, the beautiful quarter of the Mattonaia rising near our Cemetery, the part of the city wall against which it rested only left standing and seeming to invoke the demolitionists’ hammer; the company which had assumed the enterprise of the enlarging of the city making pressing requests that this sole surviving obstacle be rased. Only the plan of the engineer Poggi, adopted by the Municipality, the large boulevard with which he substituted the ancient city walls, and which parted in two, preserved it as a monumental hill. The land which it occupied was raised above the surrounding terrain, needing to be supported in part by the rock walls, and surrounded all about its perimeter with a new supporting wall, surmounted by an iron railing. These works tending to the embellishment of the city were at the charge of the Municipality; these plans having been communicated to the Consistory, it being proposed even to pay for them at their own expense at the established price, which the Consistory happily accepted, having found a trusted subcontractor, who engaged to carry them out at this price and even with a small rebate which enabled them to cover the expenses of their surveillance. One would think rightly that these works, which included the demolition of the part of the high and solid walls surrounding the city against which leaned the Cemetery’s land, and which required the use of gunpowder, were carried out under the direction of the Consistory, it having the guarantee that the interior arrangement of the Cemetery be respected and the tombs and plants be disturbed as lightly as possible.

Mentre iniziava la ricerca faticosa di un terreno appropriato, continuavano i lavori per l'ampiamento della città, le mura di cinta venivano abbatute, il bel quartiere della Mattonaia sorgeva in prossimità del nostro cimitero, il lembo di muro a cui era addossato restava in piedi da solo, e sembrava invocare il martello demolitore. La ditta che aveva assunto i lavori di ampliamento fece pressanti richieste affinché quest'ultimo ostacolo fosse abbattuto. Secondo il progetto dell'ingegner Poggi, approvato dal comune, il grande viale che sostiuiva le antiche mura della città, sì biforcava in prossimità del nostro cimitero, lo circondava dai due lati, lasiandolo tale e quale, come collina monumentale. Il terreno che esso occupa, essendo rialzato e in pendenza verso il suolo circostante, doveva essere in parte sostenuto da un muro e circondato per tutto il perimetro da un altro muro, anch'esso in parte in sostegno, sormontato da una griglia ornamentale. Questi lavori, miranti ad abbellire la città, erano a carico del comune: il quale avendo trasmesso il progetto al concistoro, gli propose di interessarsi dell'esecuzione al prezzo stabilito nel preventivo. Il concistoro, avendo trovato una ditta ben conosciuta, degna di fiducia, che si impegnava ad eseguire i lavori anche con un leggero sconto sul prezzo previsto, che consentiva di coprire le spese di sorveglianza, accettò la proposta molto volentieri. A buon ragione si riteneva che, se i lavori di demolizione della parte alta e delle solide muro di sostegno alle quali il terreno si appoggiava, che richiedevano l'impiego della polvere pirica, fossero stati eseguiti sotto il controllo del concistoro, si sarebbe avuta maggiore garanzia di rispetto della parte interna del cimitero, per cui i danni ai monumenti, alle piante, ecc. sarebbero stati limitati al massimo.

These works began during the year 1869 and were achieved in 1879. Their execution was overseen in the interest of the Consistory by the engineer Pierre Ganzoni, actually a member of our Consistory. The sum obtained of the Comune and paid to the Consistory for this project was 31,671,18 Italian lire, of which the sum did not cover the iron railings which were paid for directly by the Municipality. The requirements of the regulated plan after which the work was carried out brought about an enlarging of the Cemetery on the South side, while a segment was taken from the North East side.

I lavori iniziarono nel corso dell'anno 1869 e furono terminati nell'anno 1870. Nell'interesse del concistoro, la loro esecuzione avvenne sotto la direzione dell'ingegner Piero Ganzoni, attuale suo membro. La somma ricevuta dal comune per quest'opera fu di £31671,18; nella cifra non è compresa la griglia di recinzione, collocata direttamente dal comune. Le esigenze del piano regolatore, secondo cui vennero eseguiti i lavori, comportarono un certo ampliamento del cimitero nel lato sud, mentre una certa riduzione avveniva nel lato nord-est.

On this side taken from our Cemetery were 18 tombs and bodies, which had to be transferred to another part of the graveyard. This lugubrious operation was done with all care and requisite control and with the assistance of the minister of the Anglican faith and with our Pastor, at the moment when the corpses were placed in their new dwellings. On the occasion of the work it was decided by the Consistory to enlarge the building of the chapel and the mortuary chamber, so as to arrange for the lodging of a custodian and his family, as we have earlier noted the inconvenience of not having a custodian living on the premises, and it was thought that once the suppression was achieved, a gardener would happily accept the place of custodian and receive, as payment, the lodging. The sum of 3,500 lires was voted for this construction which figures in the accounts of the Church of 1870, but which was found to be 700 lire less than the actual expense; and a sum of 2000 Italian lire was carried over into the budget of 1871, representing the remainder of this expense and of others indispensable for the putting in good order the considerable works needed to be carried out and which gave it its present form. The construction of the custodian’s house and other works were also carried out by the Engineer Garzoni.

Nella parte così sottratta al nostro cimitero si trovavano alcune pietre sepolcrali e 18 salme, che dovettero essere traslate in altra zona del camposanto. Questa lugubre operazione avvenne con tutta l'attenzione e la cura del caso, e con l'assistenza del ministro di culto anglicano e del nostro pastore del momento in cui le salme venivano deposte nella nuova dimora. In occasione di questi lavori, il concistoro decise di ingrandire l'edificio della cappella e della camera mortuaria, in modo da ricavare un alloggio per il custode e la sua famiglia. Infatti, si era già notato il disagio di non avere un custode che dimorasse nel cimitero e si pensava che una volta avvenuta la chiusura, un giardiniere sarebbe stato felice di accettare il posto di guardiano, in cambio dell'uso dell'alloggio. Per la costruzione fu stanziata la somma di £3500, inferiore di £700 rispetto alla spesa reale, che figura nel rendiconto della chiesa dell'anno 1870, mentre un'altra somma di £2000, portata a bilancio nel 1871, è stata richiesta dal completamento di questi lavori e dall'esecuzione di altri che si sono resi indispensabili per rimettere in buono stato l'interno del cimitero notevolmente danneggiato, e per portarlo alle condizione attuali. Sia la costruzione della casa del giardiniere sia le altre opere furono dirette dall'ingegner Ganzoni.
. . .

Finally, at the last moment, the Municipal Administration decided to grant permission to continue the burials in the Porta a’ Pinti Cemetery, but only as a temporary concession, revocable at any moment, and on condition that all the cadavres be enclosed in metal coffins, which increased the cost of burial greatly, particularly for the paupers. This provisional, revocable concession and which was happily accepted in the anguish of the moment, prolonged the active existence of our Cemetery by nearly eight years.

Infine, all'ultimo momento, l'amministrazione municipale si decise a concedere il permesso di continuare il seppellimento nel cimitero di Porta a' Pinti, come concessione temporanea, revocabile in qualsiasi momento, a condizione che tutte le salme indistintamente fossero chiuse in casse di zinco, cosa che aumentava sensibilmente le spese di sepoltura, particolarmente per i meni abbienti.  Questa concessione provvisoria e revocabile, che fu accettata con gioia data l'angoscia del momento, prolungò l'attività del cimitero per altri otto anni.

Our congregation profited from this long respite and the revenues of the Cemetery which accumulated during these years were a precious resource to the Church’s Treasury, and were put aside for the considerable costs which the new Cemetery would cause.

La nostra comunità ha approfittato della luna tregua accordata, sicché le entrate del cimitero, che si sono accumulate durante questi anni, hanno costituito una preziosa risorsa per la cassa della chiesa e l'hanno messa nelle condizioni di affrontare meglio le spese considerevoli per la fondazione del nuovo cimitero.


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