Isaac Watts
Born: 17 Jul, 1674
Died: 25 Nov, 1748
Field: Writer
Location in the Abbey: South choir aisle
Type of memorial: Bust
Type of material: Marble

In the south choir aisle of Westminster Abbey is a marble mural monument to non-conformist minister and hymn writer Isaac Watts. It shows a relief of Dr Watts seated in his study, with an angel guiding his pen, with his bust above. The monument is signed by sculptor Thomas Banks. The inscription reads:

Isaac Watts D.D. [Doctor of Divinity] Born July 17 1674. Dyed Novr. 25 1748

The fine (fee) for the monument (set by the Dean and Chapter on 13 April 1780 when they gave permission) was paid by Mr Swale. It had been damaged only a few decades after its erection but was restored in 1869 (paid for by Revd.Dr Stoughton).

He was born in Southampton, a son of Isaac and Sarah Watts. Educated locally and at a dissenting academy he then became a tutor and assistant to an Independent Church, at Mark Lane in London, to which he was later elected minister. He wrote poems, religious works, and psalms as well as hymns such as "When I survey the wondrous Cross" and "O God, our help in ages past". He is buried at Bunhill Fields cemetery in London.

A photo of the monument can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further Reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

The church memorials of Thomas Banks by Julius Bryant in Church Monuments, vol. 1, 1985

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