You might remember a few weeks ago I wrote about the dreadful place Dancing on the Dead at Enon Chapel – The Victorian Sensation!
Whilst writing that and out and about on research, I gained the chance to visit Bunhill Fields. Bunhill Fields was once part of the Manor of Finsbury with connections to St Pauls Cathedral since shortly after 1100AD,
It was in use as a burial ground from 1665 until 1854, during which123,000 interments were estimated to have taken place. So many in such a small space that it became known as Bonehill with its modern name merely a more pleasant sounding derivation,
Though many of the memorials were cleared in Victorian times, there are still over 2,000 monuments present and it gives a good idea of just how overcrowded London was back then both for the living and the dead.
Bunhill was nondenominational, and in practice was particularly favoured by nonconformists. It contains the graves of many notable people, including John Bunyan (died 1688), author of The Pilgrim’s Progress; Daniel Defoe (died 1731), author of Robinson Crusoe; William Blake(died 1827), artist, poet, and mystic; Susanna Wesley (died 1742), known as the “Mother of Methodism” through her education of sons John and Charles; Thomas Bayes (died 1761), statistician and philosopher; and Isaac Watts(died 1748), the “Father of English Hymnody”.
Now part of the fields is a park although I’d imagine thousands of the dead lay under the benches and grassy spaces where people come for a quick sandwich or cup of tea. Other areas are largely fenced off which is understandable when you see what it is like.