Samuel and Henrietta Barnett
Field: Priest; philanthropist
Location in the Abbey: South choir aisle
Type of memorial: Tablet
Type of material: Marble

In the south choir aisle of Westminster Abbey is a white and green marble tablet to the memory of Samuel Barnett, Canon of Westminster, and his wife Dame Henrietta Barnett. On the memorial Samuel is represented as the figure of a sower with the inscription “Fear not to sow because of the birds” above (referring to the parable of the sower in the Bible). The sculptor was George Frampton and the memorial was dedicated on 8 February 1916. Henrietta’s inscription was added to the memorial after her death. The inscription reads:

“In gratitude to God and in memory of Samuel Augustus Barnett Feb 8 1844 - June 17, 1913 Canon of Westminster Abbey 1906-1913 and Sub-Dean Designate, Founder and Warden of the first University Settlement Toynbee Hall Whitechapel 1884-1906 Canon of Bristol Cathedral 1892-1906 Vicar of St Jude’s Whitechapel 1872-1893. And to the memory of his wife Dame Henrietta Barnett D.B.E. May 4 1851-June 10 1936. Believing that we are all members one of another he laboured unceasingly to unite men in the service of God and by his counsel and example inspired many to seek for themselves and for the nation the things that are eternal. Friends who loved and revered him erected this tablet in thankful remembrance of the witness that he bore to God in the world as with faith and courage he followed Christ”.

Samuel was born in Bristol on 8 February 1844, a son of Francis Barnett and his wife Mary (Gilmore). He was educated at home and at Wadham College, Oxford. He taught for a while at Winchester College before travelling to America. In 1867 he was ordained and married Henrietta Rowland on 28 January 1873. She was a daughter of Alexander and Henrietta Rowland and was born in Clapham on 4 May 1851. She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1924. Both worked tirelessly for the education and welfare of the poor in the deprived east end of London. Henrietta was the inspiration behind Hampstead Garden Suburb, a community where both rich and poor could live side by side. Herbert Asquith called her “the unofficial custodian of the children of the state”. They had no children but adopted Dorothy Woods as their ward. Both Samuel and Henrietta are buried at St Helen’s church, Hangleton, near Hove in Sussex (Samuel requested that he should not be buried in the Abbey).

A photograph of the tablet can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further reading:

“Canon Barnett, his life, work and friends” by his wife, 2 volumes, London 1918.

"Only a woman. Henrietta Barnett, social reformer..." by Alison Creedon, 2006

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004.

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