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Westminster Abbey and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Angela Burdett-Coutts

Near the west door in the nave of the Abbey is a simple gravestone reading

BARONESS BURDETT-COUTTS 1814-1906

This great Victorian philanthropist was born in Piccadilly, London on 21st April 1814, the youngest of six children of Sir Francis Burdett (1770-1844), politician, and Sophia, daughter of the banker Thomas Coutts. Angela inherited her grandfather Coutts’ fortune and then assumed the additional surname of Coutts by Royal licence and she became known as "the richest heiress in England". Charles Dickens dedicated his novel Martin Chuzzlewit to her and she had many royal and eminent friends. She applied her fortune to many charities connected with the Church of England, the relief of the poor, children and animals. In recognition of her work Queen Victoria in 1871 conferred a peerage on her under the title Baroness Burdett-Coutts of Highgate and Brookfield.

On 12th February 1881 the Baroness married William Lehman Ashmead-Bartlett, aged 27, who was a Member of Parliament for Westminster and her secretary. He was of American birth, his grandparents having been British subjects, and he assumed by Royal licence the surname Burdett-Coutts, but he was not called Baron. The age difference caused a stir at the time, but it was a very happy union, although without children. She died on 30th December 1906 of acute bronchitis. Her body lay in state at her house and 30,000 people paid their respects. The burial took place at Westminster Abbey on 5th January 1907 attended by a vast congregation.

Further reading

Clara Burdett Patterson: Angela Burdett-Coutts and the Victorians, London 1953

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

Portraits of the Baroness and her parents are at the National Portrait Gallery in London

Born

21st April 1814

Died

30th December 1906

Funeral

5th January 1907

Occupation

Philanthropist

Location

Nave

Memorial Type

Grave

Angela Burdett-Coutts, seated, her elbows resting on an open book on a table
Angela Burdett-Coutts

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2021 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Gravestone of Angela Burdett-Coutts, which reads: 'BARONESS BURDETT-COUTTS 1814-1906'
Baroness Burdett-Coutts grave

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2021 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Funeral service paper for Angela Burdett-Coutts
Baroness Burdett Coutts funeral service paper

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2021 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

I feel very privileged to work here. I take so much pride in working for a beautiful place like the Abbey, it’s unique.

Alex - Abbey Marshal

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