Bunhill Fields

Category: Famous cemeteries

Bunhill Fields is a cemetery located in the London Borough of Islington, north of the City of London, and managed by the Corporation of London.

It was used as a burial site for Noncomformists from the late seventeenth century to the middle of the nineteenth century and contains the graves of many notable people.

Bunhill Fields was part of the manor of Finsbury (originally Fensbury), which is of great antiquity, the manor having its origins as a prebend of St Paul’s Cathedral established in 1104.

In 1315 the prebendary manor was granted by Robert de Baldock to the Mayor and commonalty of London., enabling more general public access to a large area of fen or moor stretching from the City of London’s boundary (London Wall), to the village of Hoxton.

In 1498 part of the otherwise unenclosed landscape was set aside to form a large field for the exercise of archers and other military citizens, and even today this part of the manor still bears the name ‘Artillery Ground’.

Next to this lies Bunhill Fields, the name deriving from “Bone Hill”, which is possibly a reference to the district having been used for occasional burials from at least Saxon times, though more likely it derives from the unusual events of the mid sixteenth century. For, in about 1549, cart-loads of human bones were periodically brought here – some one thousand 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.


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