Granite arca monument, c.1863
Reason for Listing
The monument to Sampson Copestake and family is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Design interest: an exceptionally large and impressive monument, showing the High Victorian adaptation of Neoclassical funerary design, made possible by newly-developed industrial techniques of stonecutting;
*Setting: it occupies a prominent position within the Grade I registered Highgate Cemetery and has group value with other listed tombs and structures nearby.
Sampson Copestake (1800-74) was a Nottingham-born merchant and clothier. He was a founding partner in Copestake, Moore, Crampton and Co., a large drapery firm with offices in Cheapside and warehouses in Bow Churchyard.
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 the architect JB 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.
A very large monument of polished grey granite, prominently situated on the Upper Circle. Square in plan, the monument comprises an arca, or tapering chest, placed beneath a heavy moulded cover, supported at each corner by three Doric colonnettes. An inscription commemorates Sampson Copestake (d.1874), his wife Anne (d.1863), and their son Sampson (d.1917). The edge of the cover is enriched with incised Greek key ornament. The arca rests on a tall and richly moulded base, with a course of rock-faced rustication just above ground level.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.