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Monument to Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks, Kensington and Chelsea

Description: Monument to Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks

Grade: II
Date Listed: 3 April 2012
English Heritage Building ID: 1403615

OS Grid Reference: TQ2330282548
OS Grid Coordinates: 523302, 182548
Latitude/Longitude: 51.5284, -0.2239

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

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Listing Text


Peterhead granite funerary ledger, dated 1897.

Reason for Listing

The monument to Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks (1826-1897) is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Artistic interest: a simple monument whose design reflects the occupation of the principal person commemorated;
* Historic interest: commemorates a leading mid-C19 museologist who played an important role in the development of the British Museum;
* Group value: with other listed monuments within the Grade I registered Kensal Green Cemetery.


Augustus Wollaston Franks was born in Geneva in 1826 and educated at Eton College and then at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he devoted himself to antiquarian studies. He was one of the founders of the Cambridge Architectural Society and a member of the Ray Society and the Cambridge Antiquarian Society. Having moved to London in 1849, he became influential in the newly founded Archaeological Institute, where he organised the annual exhibitions and gained a deep knowledge of European antiquities. He was honorary secretary to the organising committee of the medieval exhibition held at the Royal Society of Arts in 1850, and, as a result of this work, was appointed to a newly-created post at the British Museum to oversee the establishment of a collection of British antiquities, which had been recommended by a royal commission in 1850. In 1866 he became Keeper of the new department of British and medieval antiquities and ethnography. He had a decisive influence on the Museum's collecting policy, using his considerable inherited wealth to make numerous acquisitions on its behalf, and persuading the Trustees to acquire other important collections when they came on the market. He was also a major scholar and collector in his own right, and published across an extraordinarily wide range of fields from Chinese paintings and Indian sculpture to the megalithic monuments of the Netherlands.

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, which were 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 two-tier Peterhead granite raised ledger with a raised floreate cross running the length of the top. The sides of the upper stage carry the dedication: ' Augustus Wollaston Franks KCB President of the Soc. Antiq. London Sometime Keeper in the British Museum. Born March 20, 1826. Died May 21, 1897. RIP.' The lower stage carries a memorial dedication to Franks's sister, Frederica Annie Somerville Franks (1840-1913).

Source: English Heritage

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