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Burdett-Coutts Memorial Sundial

A Grade II* Listed Building in St Pancras and Somers Town, London

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.5354 / 51°32'7"N

Longitude: -0.1309 / 0°7'51"W

OS Eastings: 529734

OS Northings: 183488

OS Grid: TQ297834

Mapcode National: GBR G3.SS

Mapcode Global: VHGQS.PN5T

Entry Name: Burdett-Coutts Memorial Sundial

Listing Date: 25 February 1993

Last Amended: 21 September 2016

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1113250

English Heritage Legacy ID: 477701

Location: Camden, London, NW1

County: London

District: Camden

Electoral Ward/Division: St Pancras and Somers Town

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Camden

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St Pancras Old Church

Church of England Diocese: London

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Summary

Memorial sundial, 1877-1879.

Description

Memorial sundial, 1877-1879. Designed by George Highton of Brixton for Baroness Burdett-Coutts, and manufactured by H Daniel and Co, cemetery masons of Highgate; relief carvings by Signor Facigna.

MATERIALS: constructed from Portland stone, with marble and granite dressings and mosaic detail, a red Mansfield stone base and wrought ironwork.

DESCRIPTION: the memorial is a tall square shaft in decorated Gothic style, standing on a square plinth and a three-tiered octagonal base. The shaft has angle colonnettes in pink and grey granite, which rise on each side to a trefoil head to a recessed panel with inscriptions in applied lettering. Four tall, richly-moulded gables surround a crocketed spire with corner pinnacles.

The SW side faces the entrance to the gardens. The trefoil contains a marble plaque beneath a relief carving of St Pancras with a palm and book, above a marble panel with a two-part inscription: the first is the beatitudes from St Matthew V, 3-9 (verses 4 and 5 in reversed order), and the second is a religious poem, the author of which is unknown. In the gable above is an iron sundial, with the words ‘TEMPUS EDAX RERUM’ – time devours all things. The SE and NW sides have relief carvings of Morning, represented by a woman with a cockerel upon her head, and Night, represented by a robed figure with a star and crescent moon. The panels contain lists of names of eminent people once buried in the churchyards. On the NE is St Giles, whose panel has a dedication to those people whose graves were disturbed but whose names were not recorded.

The names are listed thus:
SE side: ‘CHARLES LOUIS VICOR DE BROGLIE 1765 / CHEVALIER D’EON, 1810 / FRENCH MINISTER PLENIPOTINTIARY / JOSEPH FRANCIS XAVIER DE HASLANG, 1783 / COUNT D’HERVILLY, 1795 MARSHAL OF FRANCE / PASCHALIS DE PAOLI, 1807 OF CORSICA / COMTE DE PONTCARRE, 1810 / MICHAEL JOANNED BAPTISTA, BARON DE WENZEL, 1790 / OCCULIST TO THE COURT OF HUNGARY / LORD CHARLES DILLON, 1741: LADY DILLON, 1751 / ARCHIBISHOP DILLON, 1806 / GENERAL SIR RUFANCE DONKIN, KCB, GCH 1841 / MISS FRANCES DOUGHTY, 1763 / DAUGHTER OF SIR HENRY TICHNORNE / GUY HENRY MARIE DU VAL, MARQUIS BE BONNEEVAL, 1863 / REV. JOSEPH DUNCAN, 1797 / SIDLY EFFENDI, 1811 / TURKISH AMBASSADOR TO THIS COUNTRY / JOHN FLAXMAN, 1826 SCULPTOR / SIR JOHN FLEETWOOD, 1741 / PHILLIPPO NEPUMUCENO FONTANAE, 1793 / AMBASSADOR FROM THE COURT OF SARDINIA / TO THAT OF SPAIN / FRANCIS PIETRI FOZANO, 1838 / CLAUDE JOSEPH GABRIEL, CISCOUNT LE VAULX, 1809 / MARSHAL OF FRANCE / BONAVENTURA GIFFARD, 1734 AND ANDREA GIFFARD, 1714 / JOHN ERNEST GRABE D.D. 1711 / ANTOINE FRANCOISE, COMTE BE GRAMONT, 1795 / SIR JOHN GURNEY, 1845 / FORMERLY THE CHIEF BARON OF THE EXCHEQUER / SAMUEL HARRISON, MUSICIAN 1812 / THE HON ESME HOWARD OF NORFOLK, 1728 / YOUNGEST SON OF HENRY, EARL OF ARUNDEL AND SURREY / AND HIS WIFE MARGARET, 1716 / COUNT LA MARCHE, 1806 BISHOP OF LEON’ (33)

NW side: ‘HIS EXCELLENCY PHILLIP ST MARTIN / COUNT DE FRONT, 1812. / MORRIS LEIVESLEY, 1849, / 54 YEARS SECRETARY OF THE FOUNDLING HOSPITAL. / JAMES LEONI, 1746, ARCHITECT. / COUNT FERDINAND LUCHESSE, 1806, ENVOY FROM NAPLES / ANDRES MARSHALL, 1813, PHYSICIAN. / MAURICE MARGAROT, 1815, AND HIS WIFE ELIZABETH, 1841 / THOMAS MAZZINGHI, 1775, VIOLINIST. / FATHER OF JOSPEH MAZZINGHI, THE COMPOSER. / THE HON: ISAAC OGDEN, 1819. / REVD FATHER O’LEARY, 1802. / DON JOSEPH ALONZO ORTIZ, 1813, / CONSUL GENERAL OF SPAIN. / STEPHEN PAXTON, 1787, MUSICIAN. / PETER PASQUALINO, 1766, MUSICIAN. / MADELINE ANTOINETTER PULCHERIE, MARQUISE DE TOURVILLE, 1837. / SENORA DONA MARIA MANUELA RAPAOL, 1839, / NATIVE OF CORDOVA. / SIMON FRANCIS RAVENET, 1764, ENGRAVER. / LADY SLINGSBY, 1693, AN ACTRESS. / SIR JOHN SOANE, R.A.F.R.S. 1837, / ARCHITECT OF THE BANK OF ENGLAND / JEREMIAH LE SOUEF, 1837, / FOR 20 YEARS VICE CONSUL OF THE UNITED STATES. / SIR CHARLES HENRY TALBOT, 1798, / HIS WIFE AND OTHER MEMBERS OF THE TALBOT FAMILY. / SIR HENRY TEMPEST, 1753. / MANOEL VIERA, 1783 PORTUGESE MERCHANT. / JOHN WALKER, 1807 / AUTHOR OF THE PRONOUNCING DICTIONARY. / EDWARD WALPOLE, 1740. / SIR JOHN WEBB, 1797, / AND HIS WIFE BARBARA, 1740.’ (29)

NE side, beneath the dedication: ‘RT: HON’ MARY DOWAGER LADY ABERGAVENNY, 1699. / FRANCIS CLAUD AMOS 1800. / THE HON: COUNT ARUNDELL, 1752 AND HIS WIFE ANN, 1778. / LOUIS CLAUD BIGOT, 1803 / MINISTER PLENIPOTENTIARY FOR THE KING OF FRANE IN SWEDEN. / LADY BOWYER 1802, RELICT OF SIR WILLIAM BOWYER, BART / WILLIAM BRETT, 1828, ARTIST. / HENRY BURDETT, 1736, GOLDSMITH. / MARY BURKE, 1846. / WIFE OF JOHN BURKE, AUTHOR OF “THE PEERAGE”. / THE HON: ELIZABETH BUTLER, 1823, / DAUGHTER OF LORD LANGDALE. / RT: HON: ELIZABETH, COUNTESS OF CASTLEHAVEN, 1743, DAUGHTER OF LORD ARUNDELL. / TIBERIUS CAVALLOW, 1809, SCIENTIST. / THE HON AMEY CONSTABLE, 1783, / DAUGHTER OF LORD CLIFFORD OF CHUDLEY. / CATHERINE CONSTABLE, 1783 / WILLIAM CUMMINGS, 1833, GENERAL OF H.M. FORCES. / JOHN DANBY, 1798, MUSICIAN. / ALEXANDER CAESAR D’ANTERROCHES, 1793, / BISHOP OF CONDORN. / JOSEPH CAYETANO DE BERNALES, 1825, SPANISH MERCHANT, / AND HIS WIFE ELIZABETH, 1823.’ (24)

The square plinth has four corner posts linked by foliate ironwork.

The Mansfield stone octagonal base has three tiers of troughs, with the outer face of each containing intricate mosaic and relief moulded panels depicting flowers, foliate symbols and the seasons. The troughs are filled with plants.

C20 cast-iron railings enclose the monument, and in line with the corners are four stone statues: two of seated dogs, said to have been modelled on Burdett-Coutts’s collie, and two lions.

Johann Christian Bach’s plain pauper’s plaque stands on the NW edge of the railings.

History

The public gardens around the St Pancras Old Church were opened in 1877, after the churchyard was closed for burials in 1850. The gardens are made up of part of the old churchyard for the church of St Pancras, enlarged in 1800, and a separate burial ground for St Giles-in-the-Fields, added 1803. It was a preferred burial place for Catholics, with an area devoted to French émigrés. The burial ground and churchyard were partially destroyed by the development of the Midland Railway; the company formed a cutting in 1865 for the construction of the railway lines from St Pancras Station. The clearances of tombs and bodies was highly controversial and caused considerable protest; the graves were dug up at night, behind screens, a process overseen by Thomas Hardy, then an apprentice architect, and many years later recorded in a poem, ‘The Levelled Churchyard’ (1882). The grandest tombs survived, including the tomb to Sir John Soane (d 1837) and his wife (d 1815), but others were moved. The ground was levelled and the headstones were placed in mounds or around the walls. In 1875 the remaining land was acquired by the St Pancras Vestry for use as public space, and the gardens were opened to the public in June 1877; Baroness Burdett-Coutts laid the foundation stone of the monument she had presented, to commemorate the graves disturbed in the construction of the railway. The gardens were laid out in their present form in 1890-1 by the Vestry, in conjunction with the Midlands Railway Company.

Angela Georgina Burdett, suo jure Baroness Burdett-Coutts (1814-1906) was a prominent philanthropist who is estimated to have given away between £3 and £4 million. As described by her biographer Edna Healey, in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Burdett-Coutts set a new standard in philanthropy: prompt and practical, her charity was given with style and without condescension. In her time she was an honoured institution and most of her enterprises bore lasting fruit. Even her visionary schemes that did not survive – Columbia market and Columbia Square – served as models for the shopping precincts and housing estates of a later era. In the breadth and sincerity of her sympathies and in the variety of her social and intellectual interests she has had no rival among philanthropists before or since. Her example not only provided an immense stimulus to charitable work among the rich and fashionable but also suggested solutions to many social problems. She was the first woman to be given a peerage, in 1871, and was thus described by Edward VII: ‘after my mother the most remarkable woman in the country’. Burdett-Coutts lived with her companion and partner Hannah Brown for 52 years, after whose death, she married her protégé, William Lehman Ashmead Bartlett; it was called the ‘mad marriage’ by Queen Victoria, for Burdett-Coutts was 66, and Bartlett 29.

Burdett-Coutts commissioned this memorial to commemorate a diverse group of people whose graves had been destroyed by the development of the railway. Among the names included on the memorial is that of the Chevalier d’Eon, who was a celebrated French spy and diplomat in the eighteenth century. The Chevalier lived the first part of their life as a man and the latter as a woman. Their gender was widely speculated about, and they were written about in many satires and pamphlets. D’Eon used female pronouns in later life, and signed their name as Mademoiselle d’Eon.

Numerous other significant historic figures are noted on the memorial, including Sir Edward Walpole, Sir John Soane, and sculptor Thomas Flaxman, whose tomb (q.v.) stands nearby. The burial of Sidly Effendi, the Turkish Ambassador, presumably a Muslim, is quite unusual. In line with Burdett-Coutts’s humanitarian principles, a special dedication is made to the ‘memory of those whose graves are now unseen, or the record of whose names may have become obliterated’.

Reasons for Listing

The Burdett-Coutts Memorial Sundial, 1877-9, is listed at Grade II*, for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: a grand monument constructed using a range of good-quality materials, incorporating richly detailed mosaics, intricate decorative mouldings and figurative carvings;
* Historic interest: representative of the Victorian cult of mourning, providing a record of and commemorating the eminent dignitaries and those unnamed whose graves were disturbed when the commercial imperative to develop the railway triumphed over the respect for interred remains;
* Cultural interest: commissioned by a renowned Victorian philanthropist who also shared her life with a woman for over fifty years, and incorporating a dedication to Chevalier d’Eon, the celebrated Georgian spy, diplomat and cross-dresser;
* Group value: the location of the monument is exceptional; it stands within a Grade II registered historic landscape, within which there are numerous listed tombs, some of which are highly-graded, and the Grade II* St Pancras Old Church.

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