IslingtonTribune

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Poetic justice as William Blake’s grave at Bunhill Fields gets its own stone

Poet who died in 1827 gets memorial at previously unmarked spot in burial ground

27 July, 2018 — By Pema Monaghn

Members of the Blake Society with the new stone

WILLIAM Blake will finally have a memorial stone at his previously unmarked grave at Bunhill Fields, known as London’s burial ground for radicals, non-conformists and dissenters.

The poet died in 1827 but his final resting place was not identified until 2006. A plaque in the area read: “Nearby lie the remains of William Blake and his wife Catherine Sophia.”

The lack of a proper memorial is in stark contrast to the grand tomb of baptist preacher and writer John Bunyan and author Daniel Defoe’s obelisk.

The 12 years since the discovery of the exact spot has seen a heated debate over what should be carved into a gravestone for Blake, including a row over apostrophes, and a fundraising drive to pay for it.

Gareth Sturdy, a trustee of the Blake Society, said: “Blake is the finest representation of the London artist, he knew London completely.

“He often walked through the fields of Islington and knew them very well. Anyone who lives in and loves London would have an intimate relationship to Blake if they began to read him.”

Blake lies under an “unremarkable patch of ground” with around seven other bodies placed on top of him, according to Mr Sturdy. It is a fate that echoes lines from a poem in Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience: The Voice of the Ancient Bard: “How many have fallen there!/They stumble all night over bones of the dead/And feel they know not what but care.”

As the Tribune reported in 2016, ardent Blake fans Luis Garrido and Carol Garrido tracked the grave down after a year of searching the archives and examining antique plans of the area.

Now the burial site will be marked by a slab of Portland Stone carved and engraved by Britain’s foremost stonecutter, Lida Cardozo.

The Blake Society will unveil the stone at Bunhill Fields on Sunday, August 12, at 3pm. Choral music and solo vocalists will perform specially commissioned work, and the lighting of 191 candles around the grave will mark the years since Blake’s death.

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