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George Granville Bradley

George Granville Bradley, Dean of Westminster, is buried in the south aisle of the nave of Westminster Abbey. A brass, by Messrs Clayton & Bell, covers his grave showing a figure of him and four coats of arms (ie. Bradley, the Abbey, University College Oxford and Marlborough College). The inscription reads:

George Granville Bradley D.D., C.V.O. Master of Marlborough College 1858-1870, Master of University College Oxford 1870-1881, Dean of Westminster 1881-1902. He resigned on the feast of Saint Michael after the coronation of King Edward VII. Born Dec 11th 1821. Fell asleep March 13 1903.

The Latin in the surround can be translated:

Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house: and the place where thine honour dwelleth (Psalm 26.8). O how amiable are thy dwellings thou Lord of hosts! My soul hath a desire and longing to enter into the courts of the Lord (PS.84.1-2a)

He was born at High Wycombe, a son of the Reverend Charles Bradley, vicar of Glasbury Brecon in Wales and an incumbent at Clapham in London, and his first wife Catherine (Sheppard). Among his brothers Reverend C Bradley was a famous educationalist and his half brothers were Herbert and Andrew. He was educated in London and at Rugby School under the famous Dr Thomas Arnold. At Oxford he was a pupil and great friend of A.P. Stanley, whom he succeeded as Dean of Westminster. In 1859 he married Marian Philpot and they had two sons and five daughters. Son Arthur married Florence Rackham and Hugh married (in the Abbey) Norah Foster. Of the daughters Margaret married Henry Woods and was an author, Emily married Alexander Murray Smith, Mabel married John Birchenough. The others were Edith and Rose.

Emily has a memorial stone in the west cloister as she was author of "The Deanery Guide to Westminster Abbey" which ran into many editions from 1888 and which was updated and revised as "The Westminster Abbey Official Guide" until 2005. She also wrote "The Roll Call of Westminster Abbey" among other books and articles. Her stone reads:

In memory of Emily Tennyson Bradley, historian of the Abbey 1862-1946 and of her husband Alexander Murray Smith 1866-1939.

During Bradley's decanate famous people such as Darwin, Browning and Tennyson (a great friend of George) were buried in the Abbey. He took part in the 1887 Jubilee service for Queen Victoria, to whom he was chaplain in ordinary, and also the 1902 coronation of Edward VII. This was the first occasion when the Abbey was opened to the public after a coronation service to see the setting. He resigned due to ill health later in 1902 and lived near the Abbey in Queen Anne's Gate.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

A House of Kings. The official history of Westminster Abbey (with a chapter on his decanate) edited by Edward Carpenter, 1966 and revised 1972


13th March 1903





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George Granville Bradley
George Granville Bradley memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2018 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.


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