Introducing this website

Bath Abbey has more commemorative wall tablets and gravestones than probably any other church in England, almost 1500 in total. Spanning four centuries, the life stories they tell are an intriguing and fascinating part of its rich history.

Bath Abbey sits at the heart of the city of Bath and has been a central location for dramatic changes in its size, fortunes and social makeup. The people who have been memorialised come from a wide range of backgrounds, perhaps even wider than might be expected, due to the popularity of the city in the 18th and 19th centuries as a fashionable spa destination. Many who came seeking a cure for illness died in Bath and were buried in the Abbey. With their wealth, relatives paid the Abbey for space to erect monuments in their memory.

What is on the database?

  • on the People database – a catalogue of people named on the memorials in the Abbey, indexed by profession and by place
  • on the People database -short biographies of people commemorated, written by our volunteer researchers
  • on the Memorials database – transcripts of the inscriptions, translated or modernised and location numbers and codes.

The research on this website has been carried out by a group of amateur research volunteers. The research has not been peer reviewed.  If you have any questions or comments about the information, please contact monumentallives@bathabbey.org

Memorials relating to the British Empire and colonialism

At least 200 of our memorials relate to lives connected to the British Empire and colonialism from the 1600s onwards. Sadly, this means what we see in the Abbey today was sometimes paid for from profits made through the suffering and exploitation of enslaved people.

The Abbey deeply regrets this part of its history, and all human exploitation and racism, past and present. Along with the whole Church of England, we apologise unreservedly for having condoned or sustained transatlantic slavery, in any way whatsoever.

The Monumental Lives team is aware of the sensitivity of this subject matter and have taken responsibility for educating ourselves by undergoing diversity and inclusion training by Renée Jacobs. We have also consulted with Lisa Kennedy, an independent writer and researcher who advocates for the inclusion of wider perspectives within museums and the study of history.  Lisa has edited and advised us on the use of appropriate language in the biographies of some of the people connected to colonialism, ​​with the intention to actively acknowledge and address this history. We have followed her recent guidance: ‘Finding the Words: addressing language in archive collections’ 

We are still in the process of learning how to communicate our colonial connections and are committed to consulting widely to ensure this is done in a fair and just way.  We work with partners to promote racial equality and are committed to delivering the Church of England’s action plan ‘From Lament to Action’, to tackle institutional racism and expose the historic links between the church and slavery. The Abbey’s Racial Diversity statement guides our work.

Contributing to the site

You can add a comment about anything on the website by clicking on the ‘Add a comment’ link at the bottom of each page.

Acknowledgments

The database makes use of the meticulous work of Mark Hudson, steward of the Abbey and expert on the history of our monuments.  We remember Mark with great respect and gratitude.

An early version of the database was designed by the Abbey Archivist, Dr Lucy Rutherford and updated by Gill Hylson-Smith.

 

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