Table tombs in Bunhill Fields Burial Ground
Table tombs in Bunhill Fields Burial Ground

A burial ground in the Islington district of north London, used as a cemetary from 1665 to 1854. Bunhill Fields was particularly used for burials of non-Conformists, and houses memorials to a number of famous people, including Isaac Watts, William Blake, John Bunyan, George Fox, and Daniel Defoe.

Bunhill Fields was originally part of the Finsbury manor. The name Bunhill probably derives from 'Bone Hill', a reference to the fact that burials took place here since at least the Saxon era. In the medieval period it was also used as a dumping ground for bones from St Paul's charnel house.

The carved base of John Bunyan's memorial
The carved base of
John Bunyan's memorial

The burial ground was enclosed by the City of London Corporation to take burials after the Great Plague of 1665. The ground was never consecrated, so it thus became popular as a burial place for non-Conformists. Immediately beside Bunhill Fields is the Quaker Burying Ground, purchased by Quakers (or, as they should more properly be called, The Religious Society of Friends) as a burial ground in 1661.

By the time the burial ground was closed on January 5 1854, something along the lines of 120,000 burials had taken place at Bunhill, a quite astonishing number given the small area of the grounds (about 4 hectares). After it was closed to burials, Bunhill Fields was converted into a landscaped park.

Most of the historical monuments and grave markers can still be seen. Those to William Blake, Daniel Defoe, and John Bunyan are in a central paved area, while most of the other monuments are behind iron railings in a landscaped area.

Directly opposite the City Road entrance to Bunhill Fields is Wesley's Chapel, used by John Wesley as a London base from 1778.