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  • Bunhill Burial Ground

Bunhill Fields burial ground is located in the London Borough of Islington but is owned and maintained by the City of London.  The 1.6 hectares of Bunhill Fields are an oasis of calm and greenery in a busy, congested locality just north of the City of London’s square mile, which has been managed as a public open space by the City of London since 1867.

38 City Road, London EC1Y 1AU (Google Map link)

By bus

Buses: 21, 43, 76, 141, 205, 214, 271

By tube

Northern
Old Street

Opening hours

October to March: Weekdays from 7.30am to 4.00pm,​ access to the gated areas is by prior arrangement and before 3pm. Weekends and Bank Holidays from 9.30am to 4.00pm

April to September:  Weekdays from 7.30am to 7pm or dusk (which ever is earlier), access to the gated areas is by prior arrangement and before 3pm. Weekends and Bank Holidays from 9.30am to 7pm or dusk

Closed Christmas day, Boxing Day and New Years Day

Enclosed areas: Some of the graves are behind railings. Most areas can be seen from the main paths, however if you wish to enter an enclosed area please visit the site between 1 - 3pm Monday - Friday when an attendant will be available to open the gates or call the City Gardens Office on 020 7374 4127 to arrange an appointment.

For a leaflet or further information on Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, please telephone the City Gardens office on 020 7374 4127 or download the Bunhill Fields Burial Ground leaflet (496kb)

History

Bunhill Fields burial ground's historic significance has been recognized by its designation as a grade II listed building, as part of the Bunhill Fields Burial ground and Finsbury Square conservation area.

It is the last resting place for an estimated 120,000 bodies. The site has a long history as a burial ground, but is most significant for its Nonconformist connections, dating from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, and the burial of prominent people including William Blake, Daniel Defoe, John Bunyan and Susannah Wesley. The significance of the burial ground is recognised by the designation of its historic landscape as a Grade I listed entry on the National Register of Parks and Gardens. Bunhill Fields also forms part of the Bunhill Fields Burial Ground and Finsbury Square Conservation Area and has 75 listed tombs within its boundary.

The current layout of Bunhill Fields Burial Ground dates was developed in two main phases. The first of these was in the 1860s, when the City of London improved the site: laying out paths, undertaking tree planting and carrying out work to the tombs including re-cutting and recording inscriptions. In the 1960s another layer was added to the site with a sensitively designed public garden by one of the foremost landscape architects of the period, Peter Shepheard. The southern area remained dominated by the memorials, fenced off from public access by metal railings, while to the north a new open lawn enclosed by shrub planting was created to complement the memorial landscape. The burial ground now contains 2,333 monuments, mostly simple headstones (of which there are 1,920) arranged in a grid formation.

Many of the graves are packed closely together, giving an idea of how London's burial places looked before large cemeteries further from the centre of London opened from the 1830s onwards.

Bunhill today is a popular lunchtime spot for office workers wishing to escape the hustle and bustle of the surrounding City.

Download map of Bunhill Fields and the graves (886kb)

Visit the Heritage pages for a copy of the Bunhill Fields Conservation Management Plan which details how the historical features of Bunhill Fields is protected and preserved.

Surrounding area

Nearby Bunhill Fields Burial Ground are two other Nonconformist sites:

Wesley's Chapel

Wesley’s Chapel is situated opposite the burial ground across the City Road to the east. The chapel was built by John Wesley as his base in London in 1778 and is known as ‘the cathedral of world Methodism’. Part of the site is Wesley’s House, the Museum of Methodism and, to the rear, a small burial ground which is the site of John Wesley’s tomb. Other members of his family are buried at Bunhill Fields Burial Ground. Wesley’s Chapel has an active programme of services, as well as around 10,000 visitors a year and is a key site for Methodists worldwide.

Quaker Gardens

To the west of Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, off Bunhill Row lies Banner Street, where another important Nonconformist site and small public open space is located. This is the Bunhill Fields Meeting House and the Quaker Gardens. The gardens are a small fragment of a Quaker burial ground (which was also known as Bunhill Fields Burial Ground) and which was the first freehold property owned by Quakers, bought in 1661 and used until 1855 for 12,000 burials. George Fox, Edward Burrough and John Bellers were buried there and many people interested in Quakerism still visit the site from all over the world for this reason.

Guided tours

The City Guides conduct guided walks around Bunhill Fields Burial Ground beginning at 12:30pm every Wednesday from April to October.

Guided walks start at the Attendant’s Hut in the centre of the garden and the price is £7.

Visit guided walks around the City Gardens or email the City Guides citygardenswalks@hotmail.co.uk.

Management of Bunhill Fields

Bunhill Fields has been managed as a public open space by the City of London Corporation for over 140 years, initially under the Bunhill Fields Burial Ground Act 1867, but latterly under the City of London (Various Powers) Act 1960. In order to set out the vision, objectives and priorities for the management of Bunhill Fields over the next five years, a site Management Plan has been prepared by the City Gardens team (the full document and a summary version are available to download below).

Bunhill Fields Management Plan Summary (224kb)

Bunhill Fields Management Plan 2009-2014 (2.8mb)

Our overall aim is to provide a high quality urban green space, which reflects and benefits the local community it serves. Our vision is therefore: To maintain Bunhill Fields Burial Ground as a valuable, historic property with rich cultural, natural and social attributes at a local, national and international level.

Bunhill received its first Green Flag this year (announced on 23 July 2009). The Green Flag Award scheme recognises the value of green spaces to communities, and recognises staff and managing organisations that are dedicated to providing excellent green spaces for the community.

Biodiversity

Bunhill Fields Burial Ground provides a valuable oasis of greenery in a highly urban area. It contains grassland and shrubbery along with fine mature trees which harbour birds and bats. Its value for biodiversity is indicated by its designation as a Site of Borough Importance for Nature Conservation.

The graveyard is well stocked with around 130 trees including, London plane Platanus x hispanica trees, oaks and limes, together with a golden-barked ash, a black mulberry and a June-flowering winter bark tree, Drymis winteri, from South America. The dominant pattern of tree planting began in the 1870s when the burial ground was laid out with avenues of plane trees. The trees provide cover for birds including great tit, blue tit, wren, robin and feral and wood pigeons. It is of note that a pair of spotted flycatchers (a UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority species) is also reported as breeding on site.

The ground flora, patchy shaded and regularly mown grass cover, is comprised of annual meadow grass Poa annua, greater plantain Plantago major, perennial rye-grass Lolium perenne and common chickweed Stellaria media, with locally abundant spring beauty Claytonia perfoliata, dandelion Taraxicum officinale, white clover Trifolium repens, selfheal Prunella vulagaris and procumbent yellow-sorrel Oxalis corniculata.

During the spring, swathes of crocuses surround the bases of the trees on the north lawn, while in the grass surrounding the graves to the south can be found snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils and hyacinths

The memorials, together with the shade provided by the tree cover, provide suitable habitat and micro-climate conditions for lichens, bryophytes and ferns.

For more information about the City's biodiversity visit our wildlife and nature pages.

Burial records

For information regarding burial records, please contact the London Metropolitan Archives, The National Archives or visit the Burial Ground itself.

Records held at London Metropolitan Archives include the interment order books 1789-1854 and the list of those persons whose gravestone inscription survived in 1869. The original registers of burials at Bunhill Fields Cemetery for 1713-1854 are held at The National Archives.

London Metropolitan Archives

40 Northampton Road, London, EC1R 0HB

ask.lma@cityoflondon.gov.uk

The National Archives

Ruskin Avenue, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU

Tel: 020 8876 3444


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