Bunhill Fields

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Blake Memorial in Bunhill Fields.

Bunhill Fields adalah sebuah kawasan perkuburan terletak di United Kingdom, di London Borough of Islington, utara City of London, dan diuruskan oleh City of London Corporation. Ia adalah lebih kurang 4-ekar (0.02 km2) in extent; although historically was much larger.

Ia telah digunakan sebagai sebuah tapak pengembumian untuk Nonconformists dari kurun ketujuhbelas hingga ke pertengahan kurun kesembilanbelas dan mengandungi kubur-kubur dari banyak orang yang terkenal.

Latar belakang bersejarah[sunting | sunting sumber]

Bunhill Fields adalah sebahagian dari rumah besar Finsbury (terdahulunya Fensbury), yang adalah dari antikuiti hebat, rumah besar itu mempunyai asal usulnya sebagai sebuah prebend St Paul's Cathedral ditubuhkan pada 1104. Pada 1315 rumah besar prebendary telah granted oleh Robert de Baldock kepada Mayor dan commonalty of London, membenarkan lebih kecapaian orang ramai pada sebuah kawasan besar fen atau moor memanjang dari ssempadan City of London (Tembok London), ke kampung Hoxton.

Pada 1498 sebahagian dari landskap tidak dipagari telah dimuatkan tepi untuk membentuk sebuah padang besar untuk latihan pemanah dan warga ketenteraan lain, dan juga hari ini bahagian rumah besar ini masih memegang nama "Artillery Ground". Di samping dengan ini terletaknya Bunhill Fields, nama yang berasal dari "Bone Hill", yang kemungkinan suatu rujukan pada daerah ini yang telah digunakan untuk pengembumian sekali-sekala dari lebih kurang zaman Saxon, walaupun lebih mungkin ia berasal dari peristiwa-peristiwa tidak biasa pertengahan kurun keenambelas. Pada lebih kurang 1549, sebuah kereta sorong penuh dengan tulang-tulang manusia telah secara zaman dibawa sini - sesetengah seribu loads in total - to make space in St Paul's charnel house for new interments. The dried bones were simply deposited on the moor and capped with a thin layer of soil, leading to such topographical elevation of the otherwise damp, flat fens, that three windmills could safely be erected in a spot that came to be known as Windmill Hill.

Opening as a burial ground[sunting | sunting sumber]

Three men of letters in Bunhill Fields. John Bunyan's tomb (foreground) with a memorial to Daniel Defoe (obelisk, left) and Willam Blake's grave (right) in background. (January 2006).

In keeping with this tradition, in 1665 the City of London Corporation decided to use some of the fen or moor fields as a common burial ground for the interment of bodies of inhabitants who had died of the plague and could not be accommodated in the churchyards. Although enclosing walls for the burial ground were completed, the ground was, it appears, never consecrated or actually used by the authorities for burials. Instead, a Mr Tindal took over the lease. He allowed extramural burials in its unconsecrated soil, which became popular with Nonconformists - those citizens of London or surrounding villages who treasured the independence of their religious beliefs and therefore practised Christianity outside of the Church of England. The burial ground, which became known as "Tindal's Burial Ground" attracted mainly dissenters from the Established Church who were of a Protestant persuasion, partly owing to their much larger numbers in the locality than other faiths who did not conform to the Church of England's ways, such as Catholics or Jewish citizens. Nonetheless, the burial ground was open for interment to anyone who could afford the fees.

John Bunyan's tomb

Something of its seventeenth century origins can be seen today in an inscription at the entrance gate to Bunhill Fields: 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.

In 1769 an Act of Parliament gave the City of London Corporation the right to continue to lease the ground from the prebendal estate for a further 99 years. This enabled the City authorities to continue to let the ground to their tenant as a burial ground; although in 1781 the Corporation decided to take over the management of the burial ground directly.

So many historically important Protestant nonconformists chose this as their place of interment, that the nineteenth century poet and writer Robert Southey gave Bunhill Fields the memorable appellation: the Campo Santo of the Dissenters; a phrase that also came to be commonly applied to its 'daughter' cemetery at Abney Park.

Thousands of Quakers (members of the Religious Society of Friends) are buried in the neighbouring Quaker Burying Ground. This was purchased as the burial place for London Quakers in 1661, becoming their first freehold burial land in London.

Closure as a burial ground[sunting | sunting sumber]

In 1852 the Burial Act was passed which enabled places such as Bunhill Fields to be closed once they became full. Its Order for closure was made in December 1853 and the final burial (Elizabeth Howell Oliver) took place on January 5 1854. By this date approximately 120,000 interments had taken place.

Two decades before its closure, a group of City nonconformists led by George Collison, secured a site for a new landscaped alternative - in Stoke Newington. This was named Abney Park Cemetery, and opened in 1840. Here too all parts were to be made available for the burial of any person, regardless of religious creed, making Abney Park Cemetery the only Victorian garden cemetery in Britain with "no invidious dividing lines" and a unique nondenominational chapel (see the architecture of William Hosking).

The neighbouring Nonconformists' ground, the Quaker Burying Ground, was also closed for burials in 1855.

Opening as a community garden[sunting | sunting sumber]

Fail:Bunhill Fields Act.jpg
Act of 1867 for the Preservation of Bunhill fields as an Open Space.

Following closure of the Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, its future remained uncertain for a while since its lessee, the City of London Corporation, was perilously close to expiry of its lease, scheduled for Christmas 1867. In a move to prevent the land from being built upon on expiry of the lease, the Corporation formed the Special Bunhill Fields Burial Ground Committee in 1865 which became formally known as the Bunhill Fields Preservation Committee.

Appointed by the Corporation, the committee consisted on twelve advisors under the chairmanship of Charles Reed FSA (son of the Congregational philanthropist Dr Andrew Reed) who rose to prominence as the first MP for Hackney and Chairman of the first School Board for London before being knighted. Along with his interest in making Bunhill Fields into a parkland landscape, he was similarly interested in the wider educational and public benefits of Abney Park Cemetery, of which he was a prominent Director.

Following the work of the committee, the City of London Corporation obtained an Act of Parliament in 1867 "for the Preservation of Bunhill Fields Burial Ground... as an open space". This legislation enabled the Corporation to continue to maintain the site when the freehold reverted to the Church Commissioners; provided it was laid out as a public open space with seating, gardens, and the restoration of some of its most worthy monuments. The new park was opened by the Lord Mayor on October 14 1869.

The nearby Quaker Burial ground was similarly landscaped. It became maintained at private expense by the Quakers which today provides open space around a Quaker Meeting House (the remnant of Bunhill Memorial Buildings erected in 1881 that remains after bomb damage in 1942).

The main burial ground was also severely damaged by German bombing during World War II, necessitating an expansion of the public park area in 1960, such that close to half of the former burial ground became laid out and maintained as a public garden with open access. The rest remains attractively landscaped though enclosed behind railings, to protect the areas with more delicate monuments and the whole is maintained by the City of London Corporation. Legislation in 1960 transferred the freehold to the Corporation.

Today, the earliest monumental inscription that can still be seen in the main Bunhill Fields Burial Ground reads: Grace, daughter of T. Cloudesly, of Leeds. Feb. 1666. (Maitland's Hist. of London, p.775.) Many monuments of historical note can be visited, in particular,

  • John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim's Progress (a book translated into more languages than any other apart from the Bible)
  • Dr Isaac Watts, the celebrated 'Father of Hymnology' whose hymns have been sung worldwide and was also a poet and educationalist.

Close by are the burial of many other eminent nonconformists such as the ministers Dr John Owen (d. 1683) and Dr Goodwin (d. 1679). A more complete listing of the burials of well known figures is provided below.

The small park is worth visiting for its impressive trees as well as its monuments, and the adjoining Quaker Burial ground, known as Quaker Gardens, would also repay a visit (it is situated on the other side of Bunhill Row to the main nonconformist grounds and is the burial site of George Fox, founder of the Quakers).

Notable graves[sunting | sunting sumber]

Notable burials here include:

  • William Shrubsole

Lihat juga[sunting | sunting sumber]

Pautan luar[sunting | sunting sumber]

Koordinat: 51°31′25″N 0°05′20″W / 51.52361°U 0.08889°B / 51.52361; -0.08889Templat:LB Islington Templat:Cemeteries in London