William Mason
Born: 12 Feb, 1725
Died: 07 Apr, 1797
Field: Poet
Location in the Abbey: South transept, poets corner
Type of memorial: Plaque
Type of material: Marble

Poet and garden designer William Mason has a memorial in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey. It is in the east aisle on a wall near the memorial to Thomas Gray, whose epitaph he composed. The mural monument of white marble shows a mourning woman, personifying Poetry, leaning on a profile portrait medallion which is supported on a low pedestal decorated with a lyre, mask and chaplets. The monument is signed J.Bacon, 1799. The Latin inscription was written by Mason's friend Bishop Richard Hurd and can be translated:

"Sacred to William Mason, poet, master of arts, the best of men, cultivated, chaste and pious. Died 7 April 1797 aged 72"

He was born on 12 February 1725 at Kingston upon Hull, the only son of Revd. William Mason and his first wife Mary (Wild). He was educated in Hull and at St John's College, Cambridge. In 1754 he was ordained at St Margaret's church Westminster and was presented to the living of Aston in Yorkshire. On 25 September 1765 he married Mary Sherman but she died in 1767. He was a royal chaplain 1757-72 and Precentor of York Minster from 1762. He published a book on the poems of Thomas Gray and his famous work was The English Garden. At Nuneham Courtenay in Oxfordshire he designed a walled garden for Lord Harcourt. He also composed music. He died after injuring his leg while entering his carriage and is buried at All Saints church, Aston. He was called by Coleridge "the most considerable Yorkshire poet since Marvell".

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

Further reading:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004.

"The works of William Mason" by W.Mason, 4 vols, 1811.

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