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Ann Oldfield

Ann Oldfield, celebrated actress of her day, was buried in the south aisle of the nave of Westminster Abbey. It was unusual for actors to be buried within the church as the cloisters were normally where those of the profession were interred. She died on 23rd October 1730 and was buried in fine Brussels lace, a Holland shift, wearing new kid gloves and wrapped in a winding sheet. Her coffin lay in Jerusalem Chamber prior to the magnificent funeral on 27th October. But the Dean and Chapter drew the line at allowing a monument to be erected for her despite the insistence of her paramour Brigadier Churchill.

Her mother was also called Ann and she was born in 1683. She started her career with John Rich of the Drury Lane theatre in London. She became famous for her tragic and comic roles in many different plays. She had a liaison with Arthur Mainwaring by whom she had a son Arthur. Later she had an affair with Charles Churchill, an illegitimate nephew of the famous Duke of Marlborough. Their son Charles married Lady Catherine Walpole. The inscription on her small square stone reads simply:

ANN OLDFIELD 1730

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

Died

23rd October 1730

Funeral

27th October 1730

Occupation

Actor

Location

Nave

Ann Oldfield
Ann Oldfield memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2020 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

You are surrounded by history at the Abbey, not like a museum where it’s just displayed, but here you are standing where history has happened.

Gerlinde - Abbey Marshal

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