Sandstone chest tomb with pink granite lid, c.1866
Reason for Listing
The monument to James Bunstone Bunning is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: commemorates a notable C19 architect and one of the designers of Highgate Cemetery;
*Setting: it is located within the Grade I registered Highgate Cemetery and has group value with other listed tombs and structures nearby.
James Bunstone Bunning (1802–1863) was a London-born architect and surveyor, and a member of the triumvirate responsible for the design of Highgate Cemetery. He held various official posts, notably that of Clerk of Works (later Architect) to the City of London, in which capacity he was responsible for the laying out of New Cannon Street and the building of the famous Coal Exchange on Lower Thames Street (demolished in 1962 for a road widening scheme that was never completed. Its loss resulted in public outcry and, together with the demolition of the Euston Arch the same year, raised awareness of the need to appreciate and preserve Victorian buildings) and the Caledonian Market in Islington. In 1839 Bunning succeeded Stephen Geary as Surveyor to the London Cemetery Company, and he seems to have been largely responsible for the design of the Egyptian Avenue at Highgate. He was also the chief architect of the Company's other major cemetery at Nunhead.
Highgate Cemetery was the third of London's 'magnificent seven' burial grounds, a ring of suburban cemeteries established in the 1830s and 1840s to relieve pressure on overcrowded urban churchyards. It was the creation of the London Cemetery Company, a joint-stock company founded by the architect and engineer Stephen Geary and formally instituted by Act of Parliament in 1836. A seventeen-acre site on Highgate Hill was laid out as a picturesque garden cemetery with a network of serpentine drives, culminating in a monumental catacomb complex at the top of the hill. Geary himself supplied the initial plans, with assistance from Bunning and from the landscape gardener David Ramsay. The cemetery, opened in 1839 and extended to the east of Swain's Lane in 1854, enjoyed great popularity and prestige during the second half of the C19 (famous occupants include George Eliot, Christina Rossetti and Karl Marx), but lack of money and maintenance led to a severe decline during the C20. Since 1975 it has been run on a charitable basis by the present Friends group.
The monument takes the form of a shallow stone chest with sunken side panels and detached corner pilasters with pyramidal caps. The inset granite lid is inscribed: ‘To the memory of James Bunstone Bunning F.S.A. Architect to the Honourable the Corporation of the City of London. Born October 9th 1802, died November 2nd 1866. Also of Esther Bunning widow of the above named James Bunstone Bunning, died April 14 1877 aged 73. In their death they were not divided.’ The edge of the lid is inscribed with the mason's name: 'J.S. Farley, 181 Goswell Rd'.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.