Bunhill Fields Memorial Buildings

This small building stands peacefully in a garden, surrounded by later developments. It is the local Quaker Meeting House.

According to the very interesting leaflet produced by the Bunhill Quakers, the current building is the sole remnant of a once large establishment, the Memorial Buildings, completed 1881. These Memorial Buildings housed “a coffee Tavern, mission rooms for the adult schools and breakfast meetings, Sunday schools, a medical mission, and a large meeting house”. The construction was funded by money obtained when the Metropolitan Board of Works wanted to widen Roscoe Street, and purchased land owned by the Quakers to do so. Roscoe Street was then called Coleman Street. “The success of the Adult School brought in funds for the erection of an Extension building in 1888”, they write. 300-400 people attended the meeting in those days.

Bombing raids in 1940, ’41, and ’44 destroyed “all but the caretakers’ house”, and the council “re-zoned” the area to “allow only residential building”. Friends Meetings continued, however, and still continue, in the former Caretakers’ House, which is the building I have drawn. As well as the Quaker Meetings, it is the centre for a travelling library. A small notice by the door says that this is the drop-in centre for an organisation called “At Ease” which provides a “Free, independent and confidential advisory service for people in the Armed Forces.”

The leaflet from the Bunhill Quakers is on their website and also here:

I made the drawing from the Quaker Garden on the site of the Bunhill Fields Burial Ground.

The drawing took about 1 hour 30mins. The sky is a new colour: Phthalocyanine Turquoise, a Winsor and Newton colour, pigment PB16. Other colours are Perinone Orange, and Mars Yellow, both Daniel Smith Watercolours. Here is work in progress:

The air temperature was 5 degrees C. That blue sky was not a “warm blue” whatever the photos seem to say.

4 thoughts on “Bunhill Fields Memorial Buildings”

    1. Thank you JayP. I think you would like this quiet park. It is perhaps like the Memorial Garden in Penwith you describe in your post : https://pleasuresofpenwith.home.blog/2020/01/14/tree-following-january-2020/
      These places of remembrance have an air of sacredness, whatever religious tradition one follows or none. Thanks for your posts.
      I’m pleased with the “Phthalo Turquoise”. It doesn’t granulate – so it means the sky is at least a reasonably flat colour. The Cerulean Blue Chromium I was using before was a good cold blue colour, but it broke up into granulation, so the sky tended to have some weird watery pattern. Lovely in some contexts I’m sure, but not for clear London sky in January.


      1. I must confess I went on Wikipedia to look up more information about Bunhill Fields, and found a strange speeded up video around the paths through the graves (the main bit, not the Quaker Burial ground). Wanted to slow it right down! No serenity at all.
        [video src="https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File%3ABunhill_Fields_hyperlapse_video.webm" /]
        I learnt more from your blog (thank you!) Knew about the main part of Bunhill Fields but not the Quaker part.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Good Morning dear Jane,

    Very beautiful sketch, very well drawn.
    Thanks for sharing knowledge also along with the sketch.
    Blessings from Uma

    Liked by 1 person

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