The Association of the Friends of the British Cemetery was founded to undertake the maintenance of the neglected British Cemetery in Elvas, Portugal. In 2000 the Portuguese Army, as part of our project to install memorials to all the regiments that fought in the battles of Albuera and Badajoz, funded a major restoration of the Cemetery, which is now an attractive and peaceful place.
The Friends of the British Cemetery provides for a caretaker and the Cemetery is open to the public. Our long-term aim is to produce a fund that will ensure the Cemetery’s maintenance and protection in the future. The Association is a registered Associaçao, which gives it charity status in Portugal, and is UK registered charity no.1109395.
The British Cemetery at Elvas is one of the oldest British Military Cemeteries in existence. It holds just five known graves but two of these are the only marked graves of the thousands of British soldiers who fell at the Battle of Albuera and another is a memorial to one of the thousands who fell in the three sieges of Badajoz.
Throughout the history of Portugal, Elvas has been a key to its land defence. In 1811 it was the southern gateway to Spain, faced by Badajoz. In the north, Almeida facing Ciudad Rodrigo, fulfilled the same role. Wellington was anxious to secure them both before advancing into Spain and chose to conduct the operations in the north himself, leaving Marshal Beresford, the Commander in Chief of the Portuguese army, in command of the southern operation The British Cemetery occupies one of the bastions of the fortifications of Elvas and falls under the jurisdiction of the Portuguese Army. Until 1997 it was accessible only with difficulty. The fortifications and aqueduct of Elvas were classified in 2012 as a World Heritage Site. With a perimeter of 8 to 10 km and an area of 300 hectares, Elvas is recognised as the largest of this type of fortification in the world.
The Chapel of S. João da Corujeira, adjoining the British Cemetery, is the oldest chapel in Elvas. It was built in 1228 by the Knights Hospitallers on the taking of Elvas from the Moors. In 2005, after prolonged negotiations between the Friends of the British Cemetery and the Archdiocese of Évora, the Friends acquired the right of usage and the responsibility for the chapel’s restoration and maintenance. It now provides a place for private prayer and remembrance and has a small museum of relevant Peninsular War memorabilia.
The Christmas Bazaar and other benefit events raise funds for the maintenance of the British Cemetery as well as the Chapel and the Museum.
© Associação dos Amigos do Cemitério dos Ingleses em Elvas
Friends of the British Cemetery
Associação dos Amigos do Cemitério dos Ingleses em Elvas
Patron: Lady Jane Wellesley
©2013 Lusoprojecto Global