Marble sarcophagus and tomb chest on granite podium, c.1848, designed by Ludwig Grüner of Dresden and executed by the Signori Bardi (sarcophagus) and Edward Pearce (base).
Reason for Listing
The monument to HRH Princess Sophia is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Artistic interest: a highly elaborate and sophisticated funerary monument, designed by a leading German artist and executed by Italian masons to an exceptionally high standard of craftsmanship;
* Historic interest: the monument commemorates Princess Sophia, fifth daughter and twelfth child of George III, and exemplifies the continuing royal and aristocratic patronage of the cemetery;
* Setting: it is very prominently located within the Grade I registered Kensal Green Cemetery, and has group value with other listed monuments surrounding the Anglican chapel, notably the monument to Sophia's brother Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex (Grade II*).
Princess Sophia (1777-1848) was the fifth daughter and twelfth child of George III and Queen Charlotte. Her father's possessiveness and bouts of insanity and her mother's strict domestic regime meant a cloistered early life, and although she was allowed greater freedom under the Regency of her brother, the Prince of Wales (later George IV), she was not able to escape the royal household through marriage. She was deeply in love with an equerry, Major-General Thomas Garth, and appears to have had a child by him in 1800.
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.
The monument consists of a sarcophagus and plinth of Carrara marble on a base of grey Cornish granite. The sarcophagus was designed by Professor Ludwig Grüner of Dresden (1801-82), Prince Albert's artistic adviser, and carved by the Signori Bardi. The rest of the monument was erected by the London mason Edward Pearce. The sarcophagus is in an Italian quattrocento manner, with lions'-paw feet and winged lion-heads at the angles. The body is decorated with rinceaux (vine-scroll bands), and the upper sides are embellished with garlands, fillets and the Princess's cipher. On each end is a heraldic plaque bearing the royal arms. The lid is topped with a crown finial. The sarcophagus stands atop a tall plinth in the form of a tomb chest, with an egg-and-dart cornice and raised and fielded panels. The north panel reads: 'Come unto me all ye that / labour and are heavy laden / and I will give you rest / St Matthew chap.XI verse 28'; that to the east reads : 'Her Royal Highness / The Princess Sophia / 5th daughter of / His Majesty / King George III / Born November 3rd 1777 / Died May 27th 1818'. The plinth in turn stands upon a base of plain granite blocks, with leaded lettering identifying the stonemason as 'Edward Pearce / 163 & 165 Euston Rd'.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.