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William Croft

Musician and composer William Croft is buried in the north choir aisle of Westminster Abbey. The Latin inscription on his grave can be translated:

Here lies all that was mortal of William Croft, Doctor of Music, Organist of the Chapel Royal and this Collegiate Church who died 14 of August 1727 aged 50.

On the wall nearby is a white marble monument with a bust of Croft and relief of an organ with the inscription (translated):

Awake up, my glory, awake, lute and harp: I myself will awake right early

(from Psalm 57, verse 9). The main inscription can be translated:

Nearby lies interred William Croft, Doctor in Music, and Organist of the King's Chapel, and this Collegiate Church. His art in harmony was happily derived from that great master of modulation, whose side he now protects [referring to John Blow whose monument adjoins]. He studiously advanced himself by his own celebrated compositions, of which not a few were consecrated to Heaven; and was not more exquisitely commendable for the solemnity of his numbers than the amenity of his talents, his manners, and even his features. With mankind, during a space of nearly fifty years, he was spotlessly conversant, nor in a duty of humanity more admirable than the friendliness and truly paternal charity with which he educated his pupils. On the 14th day of August in the year 1727 he emigrated to the Heavenly Choir, with that concert of angels, for which he was better fitted, adding his Hallelujah.

His coat of arms is shown: "Quarterly per fess dancette, argent, or, azure and gules, in the first quarter a lion passant of the last" (ie. a shield in four quarters with a silver, gold, blue and red background with a lion in the silver portion).

William was descended from the Croft family of Croft Castle in Herefordshire. He was a son of William Croft (died 1690) and baptised at Nether Ettington in Warwickshire on 30th December 1678. He was a chorister at the Chapel Royal under John Blow and later organist of St Anne's church Westminster (his deputy there was John Isham who is buried at St Margaret's Westminster). His other posts at the Chapel Royal were as Gentleman Extraordinary, Organist, composer and Master of the Children. In 1709 he became organist of Westminster Abbey. On 7th February 1705 at the Chapel Royal he married Mary George but they had no children. He wrote music for the theatre, as well as odes and anthems. His major publication was Harmonia Sacra in 1724. He was an early member of the Academy of Vocal Music and died in Bath.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

Died

14th August 1727

Field

Musician; composer

Location

North Choir Aisle

Memorial Type

Grave; bust

Material Type

Marble

William Croft
William Croft memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2019 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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It’s very hard not to be enthusiastic working at the Abbey. If this place doesn’t make you smile I don’t know what will.

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Valerie - Foundation Director

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