On a pillar on the west wall of Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey is a white marble bust to poet and clergyman John Keble. The bust is signed and dated by Thomas Woolner, 1872 and is just inscribed 'JOHN KEBLE'. The memorial was originally much more elaborate and was in the south west tower chapel of the nave (now St George's chapel), placed between Dr Thomas Arnold and William Wordsworth. The bust, on a foliated corbel, was set within a decorated oval frame set with jewels with two small pillars either side of the bust. Above was a decorated cross and below a square tablet with the inscription:
"In memory of John Keble, author of the Christian Year. Born 1792. Died 1866. In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength. Isaiah xxx.15. He rests in peace at Hursley of which he was Vicar 30 years".
When the chapel was redesigned in 1932 the memorials there were all moved - Arnold to the north west nave chapel and Wordsworth to Poets' Corner. Only the bust of Keble was retained and mounted on a new Purbeck marble bracket in the Corner.
He was born at Fairford in Gloucestershire on 25 April 1792, son of the Revd. John Keble and his wife Sarah (Maule). After education at home he attended Oxford University. In 1827 he published his popular work The Christian Year. He was professor of poetry at Oxford and became rector of Hursley in Hampshire in 1836. With Newman and Pusey he instigated the Oxford Movement. He married Charlotte Clarke but there were no children. He died on 29 March 1866 and is buried at Hursley. Keble College in Oxford was founded in his memory.
A photo of the original monument and the bust can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004
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