Updated on 17 February 2021
The Gravestone of founding Friend George Fox is in a Quaker burial ground.
Quaker Burial Grounds
From their beginnings in the mid 17th-century, due to their Nonconformist beliefs, Quakers were either denied the right to bury their dead in the parish graveyard – or simply chose not to.
To begin with they carried out burials in gardens and orchards, but they began to acquire their own burial grounds – following guidance from Fox. He urged Friends to ‘buy decent burying-places’ and to ‘let them be decently and well fenced’.
For early Quakers, in some cases, the burial ground was the first piece of land acquired by a Quaker Meeting and many pre-date the building of the Meeting House next to them.
Quaker Memorial Service
Today, Friends are free to choose a burial or a cremation and whether to have a Quaker memorial service or not.
There is no formal structure or order of service at a Quaker memorial service, and the emphasis is on ‘simplicity and stillness’. The meeting is introduced by a Friend responsible for the memorial service, usually an elder, who will explain what happens to mourners who are unfamiliar with Quakerism.
At a Quaker memorial service anyone can speak and say something about their loved one who has died. There may also be some singing and music played. The memorial service ends with all of the mourners shaking hands with each other.
Bunhill Fields Burial Ground
Fox is buried at the Quaker burial field next to the BunHill Meeting House, Islington, north London. Nearby is the Bunhill cemetery, which became a popular burial ground for Nonconformists denied a traditional burial by the Church of England.
Among those buried and commemorated at the Bunhill cemetery include:
William Blake (1757 – 1827) poet, printer and painter best known for the poem that became the hymm Jerusalem.
Daniel Defoe (1660 -1731), novelist best known for Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders
John Bunyan (1628-1688), soldier turned preacher and author Pilgrim’s Progress.
Susannah Wesley (1669-1742), The mother of John Wesley (founder of the Methodist Church).
It is remarkable that the originators of so many of our cultural references lie in such close proximity in this soil.
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