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Monument to William Burn, Kensal Green Cemetery, Kensington and Chelsea

Description: Monument to William Burn, Kensal Green Cemetery

Grade: II
Date Listed: 3 April 2012
English Heritage Building ID: 1403611

OS Grid Reference: TQ2315082612
OS Grid Coordinates: 523150, 182612
Latitude/Longitude: 51.5290, -0.2261

Locality: Kensington and Chelsea
County: Greater London
Country: England
Postcode: NW10 5BU

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Listing Text


Granite chest tomb, 1870.

Reason for Listing

The tomb of William Burn is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: commemorates one of the leading Scottish architects of the C19;
* Design interest: a bold antiquarian design based on a medieval cross-slab;
* Group value: with other listed monuments within the Grade I registered Kensal Green Cemetery.


William Burn (1789-1870) was among the foremost Scottish architects of the early to mid-C19. The son of an Edinburgh architect, he trained initially with his father and later in the London office of Sir Robert Smirke. A number of his early independent works were churches, from the Greek Revival of North Leith Parish Church (1813-16) to the Perpendicular Gothic of St John on Princes Street in Edinburgh (1816-18), culminating in the comprehensive restoration of Edinburgh’s St Giles’ Cathedral (1829-32). He also designed schools (most famously the Edinburgh Academy, 1823-32), government offices (including the rebuilding of Inverness Castle in 1836) and other public buildings. Burn was most widely active, however, as a country-house architect. He designed scores of mansions for the aristocracy and gentry on both sides of the border, ranging in style from the late-Georgian castellated Saltoun, East Lothian (1818-26) to the richer neo-Jacobean Stoke Rochford Hall, Lincolnshire (1841-5). He was particularly noted for his skill and ingenuity in planning large houses, which influenced a generation of domestic architects including his pupils Richard Norman Shaw and Eden Nesfield.

The Cemetery of All Souls at Kensal Green was the earliest of the large privately-run cemeteries established on the fringes of London to relieve pressure on overcrowded urban churchyards. Its founder George Frederick Carden intended it as an English counterpart to the great Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris, which he had visited in 1821. In 1830, with the financial backing of the banker Sir John Dean Paul, Carden established the General Cemetery Company, and two years later an Act of Parliament was obtained to develop a 55-acre site at Kensal Green, then among open fields to the west of the metropolis. An architectural competition was held, but the winning entry – a Gothic scheme by HE Kendall – fell foul of Sir John's classicising tastes, and the surveyor John Griffith of Finsbury was eventually employed both to lay out the grounds and to design the Greek Revival chapels, entrance arch and catacombs, built between 1834 and 1837. A sequence of royal burials, beginning in 1843 with that of Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, ensured the cemetery’s popularity. It is still administered by the General Cemetery Company, assisted since 1989 by the Friends of Kensal Green.


A large chest tomb in polished grey granite, whose top is in the form of a coped cross-slab with trefoil terminations. The principal inscription reads, ‘Here rests in God William Burn, Architect, Born 20 Dec 1789, died 15 Feb 1870.’ At the head is a line from Psalm 112: ‘And the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.’ At the foot is an inscription commemorating William Burn’s daughter Janet (1818-1907) and her husband James Scott Walker (1814-1882).

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.