Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:


© Crown Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2021. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1396491.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 23-Oct-2021 at 22:40:48.


Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Greater London Authority
Islington (London Borough)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:

Reasons for Designation

DCMS agree- list at Grade II*.


635-1/0/10245 BUNHILL FIELDS BURIAL GROUND 21-FEB-11 Monument to John Bunyan, Central broad walk

GV II* Altar tomb of John Bunyan, restored 1862 by EG Papworth

LOCATION: 532648.1, 182271.9

MATERIALS: Portland stone with cast- and wrought-iron railings and sandstone base

DESCRIPTION: The monument takes the form of a rectangular stone chest set upon a low plinth and surrounded by iron railings. On top of the chest is a recumbent effigy of Bunyan, much damaged by wartime shrapnel. The side panels, framed by corner balusters, display relief carvings of scenes from The Pilgrim's Progress. The fielded end panels bear inscriptions: that at the effigy's feet reads 'John Bunyan, Author of The Pilgrim's Progress Obt. 31st Augt. 1688, Aet. 60.', while that at the head describes how the monument was 'Restored by public subscription under the presidency of the right honourable the Earl of Shaftesbury, May 1862'.

HISTORY: John Bunyan (c.1628-88) was a Puritan writer and preacher, the author of the great religious allegory The Pilgrim's Progress. Born the son of a Bedfordshire metalworker, he received at least an elementary education before the advent of the Civil War saw him enlisted, around the age of sixteen, on the Parliamentary side. After the war he became subject to increasingly intense experiences of religious guilt and despair, feelings that would continue intermittently to haunt him for the rest of his life. His distress drove him to join a local Dissenting church, where he soon discovered a gift for preaching and disputation. His first book, published in 1856, was a searing attack on the Quakers, and further polemical works, directed this time at conventional spirituality and the Church of England, followed soon after. Bunyan's outspoken preaching led to his arrest in 1660; refusing to recant his opinions or strike a compromise with the authorities, he was to remain in Bedford Gaol for more than eleven years. Despite the periodic return of his earlier psychological torments, Bunyan managed during his imprisonment to produce an extraordinary quantity of literary work, including the millenarian prophecies of The Holy City (1665) and a spiritual autobiography entitled Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (1666), as well as a first draft of The Pilgrim's Progress, finally published in 1678. On his release he resumed a life of itinerant preaching, returning to the polemical fray with denunciations of rival Dissenting groups and dire warnings of a Catholic revival - the latter culminating in his epic narrative The Holy War, written during the succession crisis of the early 1680s. Among his later works was the second part of The Pilgrim's Progress, published in 1684.

Edgar George Papworth Sr (1809-66) was a Victorian sculptor. Born into a family of artists and architects, he was trained in sculpture by Edward Hodges Baily and at the Royal Academy Schools, where he won two silver medals and a travelling scholarship to Italy. His design for the Wellington monument in St Paul's Cathedral was regarded as the popular favourite, although he did not win the commission. His work on the Bunyan monument, one of his few public sculptures, involved the restoration of an earlier effigy and the addition of relief panels to the sides of the tomb.

Bunhill Fields was first enclosed as a burial ground in 1665. Thanks to its location just outside the City boundary, and its independence from any Established place of worship, it became London's principal Nonconformist cemetery, the burial place of John Bunyan, Daniel Defoe, William Blake and other leading religious and intellectual figures. It was closed for burials in 1853, laid out as a public park in 1867, and re-landscaped following war damage by Bridgewater and Shepheard in 1964-5.

SOURCES: Corporation of London, A History of the Bunhill Fields Burial Ground (1902). A W Light, Bunhill Fields (London, 1915). Vera Brittain, In the Footsteps of John Bunyan: An Excursion into Puritan England (1950). Richard L Greaves, entry on Bunyan in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (retrieved on 9 June 2009). Mark Stocker, entry on Papworth in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (retrieved on 9 June 2009).

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The monument to John Bunyan is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * It commemorates, and bears the likeness of, a major literary figure, the author of one of the most enduringly popular and influential works in English prose. * It is a rare example of a public work by the prominent Victorian sculptor George Papworth. * It is one of the principal landmarks within the Grade I registered Bunhill Fields Burial Ground (q.v.), and has group value with the other listed tombs in the central broadwalk.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].