The Garden Guide

Book: London Parks and Gardens, 1907
Chapter: Chapter 10 Burial Grounds

Bunhill Fields Nonconformist burial-ground

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One of the quiet spots near the City is Bunhill Fields. This has for over two hundred years been the Nonconformist burial-ground. The land was enclosed by a brick wall, by the City of London in 1665 for interments "in that dreadful year of Pestilence. However, it not being made use of on that occasion," a man called "Tindal took a lease thereof, and converted it into a burial-ground for the use of Dissenters." As late as 1756 it appears to have been known as "Tindal's Burial-ground." The name Bunhill Fields was given to that part of Finsbury Fields, on to which quantities of bones were taken from St. Paul's in 1549. It is said "above a thousand cartloads of human bones" were deposited there. No wonder the ghastly name of "bone hill," corrupted into Bunhill, has clung to the place. At the present time the gravestones here are undisturbed, and more respect has been shown to them than to the bones in the sixteenth century. Asphalt paths meander through a forest of monuments, and a few seats are placed in the shade of some of the trees. Those who live in this poor and busy district no doubt make much use of these places of rest, but the visitor is only brought to this depressing, gloomy spot on a pilgrimage to the tomb of John Bunyan. He rests near the centre of the ground, under a modern effigy. Not far off is the tomb of Dr. Isaac Watts, whose hymns are repeated wherever the British tongue is spoken, and near him lies the author of "Robinson Crusoe," Daniel Defoe. This quaint old enclosure opens off the City Road, opposite Wesley's Chapel, and on the western side it is skirted by Bunhill Row. But a few yards distant is another graveyard of very different aspect, as it contains only one stone, and that a very small one, with the name of George Fox, who died in 1690. The other graves in this, the "Friends' Burial-ground," never having been marked in any way, it has the appearance of a dismal little garden, like the approach or "gravel sweep" to a suburban villa. But it is neatly kept.