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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 CLC/271
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): [1671?]-1854
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 51 production units.
Name of creator(s): Bunhill Fields Burial Ground


Administrative/Biographical history:

Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, situated in what is now City Road, north of the boundary between the City of London and the former County of Middlesex, was opened in 1665 and closed in 1854. It was used mainly though not exclusively for nonconformist burials. It was established by the City of London Corporation initially as a common burial ground for the interment of bodies of inhabitants who had died of the plague and could not be accommodated in the churchyards. Although enclosing walls for the burial ground were completed, the ground was, it appears, never consecrated. Instead, a Mr Tindal took over the lease and allowed burials in its unconsecrated soil, which became popular with Nonconformists. In 1769 an Act of Parliament gave the City of London Corporation the right to continue to lease the ground to their tenant as a burial ground; although in 1781 the Corporation decided to take over the management of the burial ground directly. It is the last resting place for an estimated 120,000 bodies.

It has been managed as a public open space by the City of London Corporation since 1867. Over the years Bunhill Fields burial ground has been cleared and the surviving monuments rearranged to facilitate easy maintenance. The tombs of famous people such as Daniel Defoe and John Bunyan have also been rebuilt near the gates and main pathways, to help tourists. The burial ground was also subject to bombing during the Second World War. The grounds are open to the public and managed by the Open Spaces Department, City of London Corporation.

In 2010 Bunhill Fields was designated Grade I on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest for its outstanding historic interest as the pre-eminent graveyard for non-conformists, as a rare surviving inner city burial ground, as a large number of listed tombs noted either for the person they commemorate or their artistic quality, and also for the high quality design and materials used by the landscape architect Sir Peter Shepheard.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of the Bunhill Fields Burial Ground. The records comprise: interment order books and registers of burials, [1671]-1854; accounts, 1788-1854; and a volume concerning stones taken out, 1840-1854. There are also records of monumental inscriptions, 19th century, together with alphabetical index of surnames based on a tomb survey of 1972, with plans, 1973, which are useful for locating surviving monuments.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Listed by MS number, assigned as part of cataloguing at the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to this collection rests with the City of London.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The records were deposited in the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library from the Burial Ground by order of the City Lands Committee, Corporation of London in 1902 and 1904, except Ms 2066 which was purchased at the Noble sale in 1916, Ms 5864, purchased from L W Kelly in 1949, and Ms 38987 were copied from items held by the Open Spaces Department, City of London Corporation. The Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section merged with the London Metropolitan Archives in 2009.

Allied Materials

Related material:

At LMA, see also CLA/078/02; COL/CC/BFC and CLA/045. Original registers of burials, 1713-1854, are at The National Archives.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
August to October 2010.

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