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The British Cemetery, Corfu

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The British Cemetery

The British Cemetery in Corfu is located just a few minutes walk from San Rocco Square in the centre of Corfu Town. Founded in 1814, when Corfu became a British Protectorate, it was used as a place where the British officials, soldiers and residents were interred. After the departure of the British from the island, the cemetery served as the graveyard for the foreign families who stayed on and still serves Corfu's Anglican community. The cemetery is administered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

There are nearly 500 graves in the cemetery and the earliest legible one dates from 1817 and is the burial place of Major-General Havilland Smith. A student of social history will find many such tantalizing glimpses into past lives. Evidence of the epidemics which were rife in those risky times is etched on many gravestones. Soldiers and administrators brought their families to Corfu, and many babies and young women were carried off by diseases such as typhoid, sometimes whole families within days. Among the most notable graves are the resting place of John Connors (died 1857) a private in the 3rd Regiment of Foot, who was awarded the Victoria Cross during the Crimean War, and the monument to the seamen of the Royal Navy destroyers HMS Saumarez and HMS Volage, which were mined by the Albanians in 1946 (The Corfu Channel Incident).

The best time to visit the cemetery is in May - the orchid season. Some 45 species are indigenous on the island, and most grow in the Cemetery, planted and lovingly tended by caretaker George Psailas. Out of the 200 orchid species found in Europe, 90 or 100 can be found in Greece. 50 species can be found in Corfu, out of which 30 are in the British Cemetery.

The British Cemetery is located on Kolokotroni Street, about 300 metres south of San Rocco Square, just off the road to the airport.


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