23 May 2010

Sir Richard Burton 1821 – 1890, Mortlake Cemetery London.

Burton was an explorer and is buried with his wife Isabel, in a monument in the shape of an Arab tent in Mortlake cemetery London. He was a fearless traveller leading expeditions including a search for the source of the Nile. He explored not only countries but also cultures and religions, learnt more than 20 languages and dialects, and was captivated by the lure of the East. Burton was not a Catholic, but his wife was a devout. When her husband died in 1890, Lady Burton insisted on a Catholic burial. Public subscription raised the bulk of the £460 needed to build the tomb. The interior was furnished and decorated at a cost estimated at a further £1,000, including both Christian and Islamic symbols, reflecting areas of Burton’s special interest. I wandered around the back to see if the curtain detail continued there and discovered a ladder to a glass window on the roof of the tomb. Despite my fear of heights I climbed up and took some interior shots, both coffins were clearly visible. The tent–like structure is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before and looks almost out of place in the tiny churchyard.


  1. This is great and that you got to see inside even better!Thanks for sharing with us!

  2. That is simply fascinating. I always wondered what the inside of these old mausoleums looked like.

  3. An extremely interesting charcter. He translated The Arabian nights and travelled in disguise to Mecca, Islam's holiest city. He also pursuded the Kama Sutra to publication in the UK.


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