Bunhill Fields

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Blake Memorial - Bunhill Fields

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Bunhill Fields Cemetery is in the City of London, England. It is part of the manor of Finsbury (originally Fensbury), which is of great antiquity, being a prebend of St Paul's Cathedral in 1104. In 1315 it was granted by Robert de Baldock to the mayor and commonalty of London. Part of it was, in 1498, converted into a large field for the exercise of archers and other military citizens. This is now called the Artillery Ground.

Bunhill originates from the term "Bone Hill" and the area was associated with burials from Saxon times. In 1685 it was set apart as a common cemetery for the interment of such bodies as could not be found room in their parochial burial-grounds in that year of pestilence. However, not being made use of on that occasion, a Mr Tindal took over the lease, and converted it into a burial-place for the use of Nonconformists. It was later was used for those who refused to compromise their beliefs and who practiced a religion outside of the Church of England.

It was long called Tindal's Burial-place. Over the west gate was the following inscription: "This church-yard was inclosed with a brick wall at the sole charges of the city of London, in the mayoralty of Sir John Lawrence, Knt., Anno Domini 1665; and afterwards the gates thereof were built and finished in the mayoralty of Sir Thomas Bloudworth, Knt., Anno Domini, 1666."

The fen or moor in this neighbourhood stretched from the London wall to Hoxton; the southern part of it was raised by over one-thousand cart-loads of human bones brought from St Paul's charnel-house in 1549, which being soon covered with dirt, the ground became so elevated that three windmills were erected on it and it became known as Windmill Hill.

The first monumental inscription in Bunhill Fields is "Grace, daughter of T. Cloudesly, of Leeds. Feb. 1666." (Maitland's Hist. of London, p.775.)

Dr Goodwin was buried here in 1679, Dr Owen in 1683, and John Bunyan in 1688[1] (http://www.sakoman.net/pg/html/10896.htm).

The cemetery was used until 1855 for approximately 120,000 burials but was taken over by the City of London in 1867 and used as a green space. About half the area is now laid out as a park and the rest remains as fence-enclosed grave areas.

The cemetery was damaged by German bombing during World War II and reconstructed in 1960.

Notable burials here include:

  • George Fox (1624-1691), founder of the Quaker movement, is buried along with thousands of other Quakers in the neighbouring Quaker Burying Ground (now known as Quaker Gardens, the other side of Bunhill Row) that was purchased as the burial place for London Quakers in 1661. This was the first freehold land held by Quakers in London. Like the Nonconformists' ground, the Quaker Burying Ground was closed for burials in 1855 but is maintained by Quakers as a public open space around the Quaker Meeting House (the remnant of Bunhill Memorial Buildings erected in 1881 that remains after bomb damage in 1942).

See also: List of famous cemeteries

External link

Corporation of London Bunhill Fields page (http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/living_environment/open_spaces/bunhill.htm)

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