This green space is tucked away behind the Foundling Hospital in London’s Bloomsbury, and was one of the first burial grounds in the city to be built at a distance from a parish church. It was opened in 1715, and served the parishes of St George the Martyr Holborn and St Georges’ Bloomsbury. It covered over a hectare, and a wall divided the two parishes. The border is shown by these broken stones:
But it was so far out of town people were reluctant at first to make use of it, but the lay churchman philanthropist Robert Nelson who was a commissioner for building 50 new churches after the Napoleonic wars, and whose monument survives :
But with London’s population exploding as people flocked to the capital, it was in a poor state by 1800, and closed in 1815. Thirty years later it was landscaped as a garden, what social reformer Octavia Hill called an ‘open air sitting room for the poor’ It is now a lovely oasis, with an impressive number of chest tombs and landscaped garden.
This is a granite drinking fountain, the lettering barely legible, in memory of Bessie Orrell 1884, in the style of the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain Association, but with no dog bowl.
This looks medieaval, but must be 19th century, to William Wyatt.
This is to Ann, the 6th and youngest daughter of Richard Cromwell, granddaughter of Oliver the Protector, and second wife of Thomas Gibson, born Worsley Hants 27 March 1659, died London 7 December 1727
And here’s a simple tomb that holds a lot of stories, not least the notion that people had short lives. It reads:
Beloved mother Sarah, relict of A M McDonogh late of the island of Antigua, died 18 July 1849 aged 83.
Sarah Fergusson McDonogh, spinster daughter of the above, died 22 August 1851 aged 93
Also Christian Trusted, widow of Thomas Trusted (formerly of the Island of Antigua) merchant, died 3 March 1852 aged 86. Her name suggests she is a former slave.
In the middle of the garden is this wonderful bench, based on CS Lewis’s The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, a public art project to raise funds for Books About Town, which has placed benches in open spaces about the city prior to their fundraising auction in October.
Just outside is this – I think it is a parish boundary marker.