Sandstone and granite obelisk monument, c.1876
Reason for Listing
The monument to Brodie McGhie Wilcox is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: commemorates a pioneering C19 businessman and the founder of the P&O shipping line;
* Design interest: an unusual variant on the standard obelisk monument, with vigorous carving on the cartouche;
* Setting: it is located within the Grade I registered Highgate Cemetery and has group value with other listed tombs and structures nearby.
Brodie McGhie Wilcox (1786-1862) was a London ship broker and the co-founder of the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O). In 1822 he went into partnership with Arthur Anderson to operate a shipping line between Britain and the Iberian Peninsula; the company was incorporated by a Royal Charter in 1840, after winning Admiralty contracts to deliver mail to Spain, Portugal and Alexandria. Wilcox also served as Liberal MP for Southampton from 1847 until his death in 1862, by which time P&O had absorbed a number of other shipping companies to become the world's largest commercial steamship operator.
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.
The monument takes the form of a tall sandstone obelisk with a pyramidal top, set on a battered pedestal with raised panels, resting in turn upon a stepped granite plinth. An armorial cartouche is mounted on the obelisk. An inscription on the pedestal reads: ‘In Affectionate Remembrance of Brodie McGhie Willcox Esq. of Portman Square London. For 15 years one of the representatives for the Borough of Southampton Hants, who departed this life the 6th of November 1862, in his seventy eighth year. Deservedly Lamented.' Further inscriptions on the pedestal commemorate his wife Sophia Ann (d.1876), his daughters Ellen (d.1871), Marion Elizabeth (d.1903) and Rose Maria (d.1909), and his son Brodie Augustus (d.1901)
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.