History in Structure

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Monument to William and Catherine Sophia Blake, Central Broadwalk

A Grade II Listed Building in Islington, London

More Photos »
Approximate Location Map
Large Map »

Coordinates

Latitude: 51.5238 / 51°31'25"N

Longitude: -0.0883 / 0°5'18"W

OS Eastings: 532719

OS Northings: 182273

OS Grid: TQ327822

Mapcode National: GBR S7.9Y

Mapcode Global: VHGQT.FY4R

Entry Name: Monument to William and Catherine Sophia Blake, Central Broadwalk

Listing Date: 21 February 2011

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1396493

English Heritage Legacy ID: 508614

Location: Islington, London, EC1Y

County: London

District: Islington

Electoral Ward/Division: Bunhill

Built-Up Area: Islington

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St Giles Cripplegate

Church of England Diocese: London

Find accommodation in
Spitalfields

Listing Text


635-1/0/10247 BUNHILL FIELDS BURIAL GROUND
21-FEB-11 Monument to William and Catherine Soph
ia Blake, Central broadwalk

GV II
Headstone of William and Catherine Sophia Blake, renewed 1927

LOCATION: 532718.5, 182272.4

MATERIALS: Sandstone

DESCRIPTION: The monument takes the form of a simple upright slab with a shaped top. The inscription reads: 'Near by lie the remains of the poet-painter William Blake 1757-1827 and of his wife Catherine Sophia 1762-1831'.

HISTORY: William Blake (1762-1827) is now among the most revered artistic and literary figures of the Romantic era. Born into a tradesman's family in Soho, he manifested from an early age both the graphic ability and the mystical tendencies that were to shape his adult life, making sketches after the Renaissance masters and encountering angels and prophets in his walks on the rural fringes of London. At 14 he was apprenticed to the master printmaker James Basire, and as a young man worked as a commercial engraver whilst training as a painter at the Royal Academy of Arts; his first original works comprised a series of watercolours on English historical themes. Blake married Catherine Sophia Boucher, his muse and helpmate throughout his creative career, in 1782, and in the following year published his first book of verse under the title Poetical Sketches. He developed a new technique of relief etching, guided - so he believed - from beyond the grave by his beloved younger brother Robert (d.1787), and used it to produce a series of 'illuminated books' combining freehand text and visionary painted images; these included the first edition of Songs of Innocence (1789) and its counterpart Songs of Experience (1794). With Catherine he attended a Swedenborgian church, but William's own brand of anti-Christian mysticism found expression in the apocalyptic prose-poem The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790) and numerous other works. He continued to work commercially and to carry out commissions, including a number for the writer William Hayley, at whose behest he moved to live at Felpham in Sussex in 1800. The friendship with Hayley soured, however, and in 1803 Blake, having been indicted for sedition after an altercation with a soldier, returned to London. Although he was later acquitted, his commercial career went into decline, and Blake immersed himself in private projects including the illustrated mythological epics entitled Milton and Jerusalem (both published in 1804). Although the avant-gardism of his style increasingly divorced him from the world of the Royal Academy, he was taken up in old age by a circle of younger artists and writers who, revered him as a genius and sage, and commissioned many of his last works including his unfinished cycle of illustrations to Dante's Divine Comedy.

Blake's work exerted an immense influence upon later Romantic and Modernist writers and artists, especially Samuel Palmer and WB Yeats. On the centenary of his death in 1927 his original monument was replaced with the present headstone; this in turn was moved during the re-landscaping of the 1960s. Blake's actual resting place is in the cleared northern section of the burial ground, east of the surviving tomb of Matthew Wilks.

Bunhill Fields was first enclosed as a burial ground in 1665. Thanks to its location just outside the City boundary, and its independence from any Established place of worship, it became London's principal Nonconformist cemetery, the burial place of John Bunyan, Daniel Defoe, William Blake and other leading religious and intellectual figures. It was closed for burials in 1853, laid out as a public park in 1867, and re-landscaped following war damage by Bridgewater and Shepheard in 1964-5.

SOURCES: Corporation of London, A History of the Bunhill Fields Burial Ground (1902).
A W Light, Bunhill Fields (London, 1915).
Robert N Essick, entry on Blake in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, www.oxforddnb.com (retrieved on 9 June 2009).

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The monument to William and Catherine Sophia Blake is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* It commemorates one of the Romantic era's most celebrated and influential writers and artists.
* It is located within the Grade I registered Bunhill Fields Burial Ground (q.v.), and has group value with the other listed tombs in the central broadwalk, and especially with the neighbouring monument to Daniel Defoe.

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

Description


635-1/0/10247 BUNHILL FIELDS BURIAL GROUND
21-FEB-11 Monument to William and Catherine Soph
ia Blake, Central broadwalk

GV II
Headstone of William and Catherine Sophia Blake, renewed 1927

LOCATION: 532718.5, 182272.4

MATERIALS: Sandstone

DESCRIPTION: The monument takes the form of a simple upright slab with a shaped top. The inscription reads: 'Near by lie the remains of the poet-painter William Blake 1757-1827 and of his wife Catherine Sophia 1762-1831'.

HISTORY: William Blake (1762-1827) is now among the most revered artistic and literary figures of the Romantic era. Born into a tradesman's family in Soho, he manifested from an early age both the graphic ability and the mystical tendencies that were to shape his adult life, making sketches after the Renaissance masters and encountering angels and prophets in his walks on the rural fringes of London. At 14 he was apprenticed to the master printmaker James Basire, and as a young man worked as a commercial engraver whilst training as a painter at the Royal Academy of Arts; his first original works comprised a series of watercolours on English historical themes. Blake married Catherine Sophia Boucher, his muse and helpmate throughout his creative career, in 1782, and in the following year published his first book of verse under the title Poetical Sketches. He developed a new technique of relief etching, guided - so he believed - from beyond the grave by his beloved younger brother Robert (d.1787), and used it to produce a series of 'illuminated books' combining freehand text and visionary painted images; these included the first edition of Songs of Innocence (1789) and its counterpart Songs of Experience (1794). With Catherine he attended a Swedenborgian church, but William's own brand of anti-Christian mysticism found expression in the apocalyptic prose-poem The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790) and numerous other works. He continued to work commercially and to carry out commissions, including a number for the writer William Hayley, at whose behest he moved to live at Felpham in Sussex in 1800. The friendship with Hayley soured, however, and in 1803 Blake, having been indicted for sedition after an altercation with a soldier, returned to London. Although he was later acquitted, his commercial career went into decline, and Blake immersed himself in private projects including the illustrated mythological epics entitled Milton and Jerusalem (both published in 1804). Although the avant-gardism of his style increasingly divorced him from the world of the Royal Academy, he was taken up in old age by a circle of younger artists and writers who, revered him as a genius and sage, and commissioned many of his last works including his unfinished cycle of illustrations to Dante's Divine Comedy.

Blake's work exerted an immense influence upon later Romantic and Modernist writers and artists, especially Samuel Palmer and WB Yeats. On the centenary of his death in 1927 his original monument was replaced with the present headstone; this in turn was moved during the re-landscaping of the 1960s. Blake's actual resting place is in the cleared northern section of the burial ground, east of the surviving tomb of Matthew Wilks.

Bunhill Fields was first enclosed as a burial ground in 1665. Thanks to its location just outside the City boundary, and its independence from any Established place of worship, it became London's principal Nonconformist cemetery, the burial place of John Bunyan, Daniel Defoe, William Blake and other leading religious and intellectual figures. It was closed for burials in 1853, laid out as a public park in 1867, and re-landscaped following war damage by Bridgewater and Shepheard in 1964-5.

SOURCES: Corporation of London, A History of the Bunhill Fields Burial Ground (1902).
A W Light, Bunhill Fields (London, 1915).
Robert N Essick, entry on Blake in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, www.oxforddnb.com (retrieved on 9 June 2009).

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The monument to William and Catherine Sophia Blake is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* It commemorates one of the Romantic era's most celebrated and influential writers and artists.
* It is located within the Grade I registered Bunhill Fields Burial Ground (q.v.), and has group value with the other listed tombs in the central broadwalk, and especially with the neighbouring monument to Daniel Defoe.

Reasons for Listing

DCMS agree- list at Grade II.

Recommended Books

Other nearby listed buildings

BritishListedBuildings.co.uk is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact BritishListedBuildings.co.uk for any queries related to any individual listed building, planning permission related to listed buildings or the listing process itself.

British Listed Buildings is a Good Stuff website.