The grave holding the remains of Puritan preacher and writer John Bunyan, who died in August, 1688, now celebrates the famed author of The Pilgrim’s Progress with an effigy lying atop a chest tomb. But it was not always so.
Bunyan, was in fact, first buried in the Baptist corner of the burial ground but it was understood that when the tomb of his friend John Strudwick was next opened (it was at Strudwick’s London home that Bunyan had died), his body would be moved into it. It’s thought this was done which Strudwick himself died in 1695.
Bunyan’s name was inscribed on the side of the monument over the tomb which took the form of a relatively unadorned stone chest in the Baroque style.
By the mid-1800s, however, this had fallen into decay and a public appeal was launched for the tomb’s restoration.
More than simply cleaning up the existing tomb, however, the Portland stone monument was completely reconstructed in 1862.
Designed by sculptor Edgar George Papworth, the new monument was again constructed as a chest, but this time with an effigy of Bunyan lying on top and two relief panels on the sides depicting scenes from his famous book.
The now Grade II* monument has been further restored a couple of times since, including after World War II when it was damaged by bomb shrapnel.
WHERE: Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, 38 City Road (nearest Tube station is Old Street); WHEN: 8am to 7pm weekdays/9.30am to 7pm weekends; COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/green-spaces/city-gardens/visitor-information/Pages/Bunhill-Fields.aspx.