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Tomb of William Clarkson

A Grade II Listed Building in Baldock, Hertfordshire

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Latitude: 51.9895 / 51°59'22"N

Longitude: -0.1897 / 0°11'23"W

OS Eastings: 524399

OS Northings: 233887

OS Grid: TL243338

Mapcode National: GBR J6Y.6VJ

Mapcode Global: VHGNM.N8K5

Entry Name: Tomb of William Clarkson

Listing Date: 4 October 2010

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1394010

English Heritage Legacy ID: 506773

Location: North Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire, SG7

County: Hertfordshire

Electoral Ward/Division: Baldock Town

Built-Up Area: Baldock

Traditional County: Hertfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hertfordshire

Church of England Parish: Baldock

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans

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Listing Text

838/0/10006 HITCHIN STREET
04-OCT-10 Churchyard of St Mary
Tomb of William Clarkson

A tomb dating from 1830 to commemorate William Clarkson (1758-1830. Manufacture by 'Brown Iron Founder Coppice Row Clerkenwell 1830' as recorded on the monument.

The tomb is constructed from cast iron and has a stone plinth.

The tomb of William Clarkson lies in the churchyard to the south of the Church of St Mary, which is listed at Grade I. It has a hipped roof made of stone which is crowned with an urn. The tomb has corner pilasters with carved stops and the sides of the tomb are inscribed with memorial script dedicated to William Clarkson, which reads:

'The body of William Clarkson Esq who died at Wraby in Lincolnshire the 24th November 1830 the 73rd year of his age is here deposited. He zealously supported his friend Thomas Clarkson Esq of Playford Hall Suffolk in promoting measures for the abolition of the slave trade. He left money for keeping this tomb in perpetual repair and for an annual statutory sermon of which fund the rector and church warden are the trustees'.

There is also an inscription to his wife. Beneath the iron is written 'Life's a Span. Death's Eternity'.

The tomb sits on a three-tiered plain plinth and is surrounded with spiked iron railings.

Although little is known about William Clarkson (1758-1830), it is understood that he worked closely with Thomas Clarkson (not known to be a relation) in promoting measures for the abolition of the slave trade, and his endeavours are attested by way of the inscription on his tomb.

More is known of Thomas Clarkson (1760-1846) who was first introduced to the anti-slavery movement by a Quaker. This led to publication of a prize-winning essay that Clarkson had written whilst at Cambridge, entitled 'An Essay of the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, Particularly the African'. The Essay had great success and led to the creation of an informal committee to lobby MPs; its most important achievement was the recruiting of William Wilberforce, in which Clarkson played the chief part. Clarkson was to dedicate his career to campaigning for the abolition of slavery and writing widely on the subject until the act abolishing slavery in the British Empire was passed in 1833. He died in 1846 at Playford, where he was buried at St Mary's Church. A large monument to his memory was erected in 1880 at Wisbech, which is listed at Grade II*.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Pevsner N, Buildings of England, Hertfordshire (1990).

The tomb of William Clarkson is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historical: this tomb has special interest because it commemorates the life of a public figure and the contribution that he made to the abolition of British slavery.
* Design interest: this tomb demonstrates accomplished architectural skill in the handling of proportion, form and detailing producing a distinguished and dignified architectural monument.
* Materials: the tomb is unusual for its use of cast iron as the main construction material, in preference to stone, and in being signed by the foundry.
* Group Value: the special interest of this tomb is enhanced further by its visual and spatial association with the Grade I listed Church of St Mary to the north, and the Old George and Dragon Hotel to the south-east.

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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