The Holy Rood Church in the1930s.
The Holy Rood Church in the1930s.

Can you help solve this church grave mystery?

Ground-penetrating radar has been brought in to try to solve the 83-year-old mystery of who is buried beneath the site of an old church on the Gold Coast before the land is sold. Now, the bodies may have to be exhumed.

The Holy Rood Church at Maudsland was destroyed by fire in 1936 and rebuilt at nearby Oxenford.

But with the Anglican Church now selling the site where the old wooden church once stood, the hunt is on to find descendants of those entombed below.

With church records lost in the fire, the search has hit something of a dead end.

Ground penetrating radar has detected as many as three graves on the site on the site but the identity of the remains remain a mystery which the Anglican Church's Gold Coast North Parish is eager to solve.

The original church was designed and built in 1887-88.

Mr F.G. Walker was the architect and he followed a design of an English church where he had previously worshipped.

Sadly, the church records are believed to have been lost in the 1936 bushfire and no trace can be found of any other information to provide further substantive clues.

Men us ground penetrating radar to find remains at the Holy Rood Church.
Men us ground penetrating radar to find remains at the Holy Rood Church.

Research through Queensland State Archives and the Gold Coast Family History Library yielded no results.

However, some handy detective work by current parish manager Rod Mengel has shed some light on the mystery.

He believes he knows the identity of one person buried on the block - George Donald who died of "senile decay" at the age of 96 on January 20, 1889.

Mr Mengel trawled through old newspaper articles between the 1880s and the 1930s but the only name he could identify with reasonable certainty was Mr Donald.

"He migrated from Scotland and was one of the early settlers to the area. He was also the father of Mary Binstead (nee Donald)," Mr Mengel said.

"We can only speculate what happened to him. Had he gone mad? Had he wandered off and went missing? Did they need to bury him quickly because it was the middle of summer?"

There could be up to three graves at the church.
There could be up to three graves at the church.

These are just a few questions.

"What about the others that are supposed to be buried on that block? Who are they? What are their stories? Do they have any surviving relatives? There are lots of local stories of who was buried on the Maudsland block that have been around for years. I have delved into their accuracy but they have all come to nothing."

Mr Mengel said the parish had brought in experts with ground penetrating radar equipment a few months ago and their investigation confirmed that there were some remains.

There could be up to three graves which could possibly predate the building of the church.

"It is likely that we will have to exhume the remains of bodies to be able to sell the block," he said.

Mr Mengel is hoping that members of the public might have some answers either through personal knowledge or through some family history.