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Tomb of Captain John Bennett

A Grade II Listed Building in Abbey, London

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.5358 / 51°32'8"N

Longitude: 0.076 / 0°4'33"E

OS Eastings: 544083

OS Northings: 183922

OS Grid: TQ440839

Mapcode National: GBR NF.ZTD

Mapcode Global: VHHNC.8NKH

Entry Name: Tomb of Captain John Bennett

Listing Date: 13 March 2014

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1418618

Location: Barking and Dagenham, London, IG11

County: London

District: Barking and Dagenham

Electoral Ward/Division: Abbey

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Barking and Dagenham

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: Barking

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford

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Summary

Early-C18 chest tomb to Royal Naval Captain John Bennett in St Margaret’s churchyard.

Description

A chest tomb, dated 1716, commemorating Captain John Bennett, probably by Thomas Stayner, mason.

The chest is limestone, and the slab black limestone. The sides are covered in bulbous acanthus leaves; each side has a shallow central projection with symbolic motifs: a war ship on one side, and on the other, naval weaponry. Each end has a cartouche with Bennett’s family crest. Curved and stepped mouldings form the base and cornice of the chest.

The top of the tomb has a thick and deeply overhanging slab with moulded edges. It is inscribed ‘HERE LYETH INTERR’D YE BODY OF / CAP. JOHN BENNETT / COMMANDER OF HIS MAJESTY / SHIP LENOX & WHO DIED / THE 30TH OF JANUARY 1716 / AGED 46 YEAR’.

The moulded stonework on the base survives in good condition, and the inscription remains clearly legible.

History

John Bennett of Poole, b.1670, died in Barking, Essex, in 1716. He followed his father, also John, into the Royal Navy and was made a captain in 1695; his final captaincy was of the Lenox, recorded on his tombstone. He was prepared for his early death, and left a detailed will of vast sums, and included curious secrecy clauses preventing the disclosure of the contents of pieces of bequeathed furniture. His great wealth fuelled theories of involvement in smuggling, and in Cloudesley Shovell’s Scillies disaster of 1707, but these are unproven.

The executor of his will was a City of London haberdasher, Abraham Edlin, who was tasked with commissioning the ‘grave with iron railes’, a memorial inside the church, and the funeral on Bennett’s bequest of £500; the mason for the tomb is believed to be Thomas Stayner (1668-1731).

The iron rails around the tomb were removed during the Second World War.

Reasons for Listing

The chest tomb of Captain John Bennett, dated 1716, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Date: as an early-Georgian chest tomb there is a presumption in favour of designation;
* Design interest: it is an elaborately detailed funerary structure with excellent sculptural decoration with symbolism pertaining to Bennett’s life and trade, probably by a notable C17-18 mason;
* Group value: it is located in an exceptional setting between the church and curfew tower, in the grounds of the ruined abbey, and contributes positively to the churchyard setting.

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