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Tomb of Henry Pettit, Brompton Cemetery

A Grade II Listed Building in Redcliffe, London

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.4874 / 51°29'14"N

Longitude: -0.1935 / 0°11'36"W

OS Eastings: 525523

OS Northings: 178039

OS Grid: TQ255780

Mapcode National: GBR 0N.RZ

Mapcode Global: VHGQY.LWK4

Entry Name: Tomb of Henry Pettit, Brompton Cemetery

Listing Date: 21 December 2011

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1403344

Location: Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW10

County: London

District: Kensington and Chelsea

Electoral Ward/Division: Redcliffe

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Kensington and Chelsea

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St Luke, South Kensington

Church of England Diocese: London

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Summary

Funerary monument to Henry Alfred Pettitt, c.1890.

Description

MATERIALS: Pink and grey granite, marble plaque, bronze railings.

A pink granite broken column, with inscribed spiralling laurel leaf decoration on the shaft, standing on a square grey granite pedestal. The pedestal has a deep moulded cap with shaped pediments with the monogram HP surrounded by laurel leaves, and pink granite engaged colonnettes supporting four-centred arches. On the front face within the arched niche is a marble plaque bearing a bust in relief of Henry Pettitt in a pensive attitude. Below the plaque is an inscription reading: IN LOVING MEMORY OF/ HENRY PETTITT/ WHO DIED DECEMBER 24th 1893/ GREATLY MISSED AND DEEPLY MOURNED/ BY HIS WIDOW AND FAMILY/ AGED 45 YEARS. Other family members are commemorated in inscriptions in the other three niches. These are his mother, Lucy, née Hart (1825-1897; Annette, his wife (1847-1916) and Lillian Mary Lucy, his daughter (1879-1918). At the base of the pedestal the name Pettitt is carved in block letters in relief in an incised panel. The pedestal is surrounded by a pink granite kerb, extending around the grave plot, with six pyramid-capped marble posts joined by bronze cabled railings, some of which are missing.

History

Henry Alfred Pettitt (1848-1893) was a noted Victorian playwright of populist drama who wrote, or co-wrote, numerous melodramas and musical burlesques. His first play, 'Golden Fruit', was written in 1873 whilst he was an English master at North London Collegiate School, Camden Town; his last, 'The Life of Pleasure', was written in 1893 before his death from typhoid fever at The Chestnuts, 352 Goldhawk Road, London. He became hugely successful during his career: at one time 22 companies in England and six in America were touring with his plays, and he produced plays for Drury Lane and the Gaiety theatres amongst other West End playhouses.

Brompton Cemetery was one of the 'magnificent seven' privately-run burial grounds established in the 1830s and 1840s to relieve pressure on London's overcrowded churchyards. It was laid out in 1839-1844 to designs by the architect Benjamin B Baud, who devised a classical landscape of axial drives and vistas with rond-points at the intersections marked by mausolea or ornamental planting, the latter devised by Isaac Finnemore with advice from J C Loudon. The main Ceremonial Way culminates in a dramatic architectural ensemble recalling Bernini's piazza in front of St Peter's in Rome, with flanking colonnades curving outwards to form a Great Circle, closed at its southern end in a domed Anglican chapel (the planned Catholic and Nonconformist chapels were omitted for financial reasons). The cemetery, never a commercial success, was compulsorily purchased by the General Board of Health in the early 1850s, and has remained in state ownership ever since.

Reasons for Listing

* Design interest: an elaborate memorial with the added interest of a characterful marble portrait relief;
* Historic interest: commemorates Henry Alfred Pettitt, a prolific late-Victorian playwright, producer of many of the burlesques and melodramas that defined popular theatre in this era;
* Group value: it is located within the Grade I-registered Brompton Cemetery and has group value with other listed tombs and structures nearby.

Selected Sources

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