Brook Taylor’s tomb

Church of St. Anne Photography by Carlos Dorce

Church of St. Anne
Photography by Carlos Dorce

I tried to find Brook Taylor’s tomb when I was in London. Taylor (1685-1731) is well known from his famous Taylor series which we can find in all the mathematical texts of our students. He contributed to the development of calculus (he also made some experiments in magnetism) and became one of the most important English mathematicians of the 17th century.

Portrait of Brook Taylor attributed to the studio of Hans Hysing.                            Source: BBC’s web

When I read that Taylor was buried in St. Anne’s churchyard I thought that I had to find a grave in a cemetery but… the churchyard is a public garden nowadays! So the tombs have been replaced by tables, chairs, cold beverages and music. For the moment I was content with the information I read on a bulletin board:

The Church of St. Anne, Soho, built 1677-1685 and probably designed by Sir Christopher Wren or William Talman, possibly both, was consecrated by Henry Compton, Bishop of London, on 21st March 1686. […] The churchyard was included in the original proposals for the establishment of a new parish and church, and for some one hundred and sixty years it served as the last resting place for most of Soho’s cosmopolitan population. It has been stimated that there were over 100.000 interments in this plot of just three-quarters of an acre, with about 14.000 of them in the period 1830-1850.

By the middle of the 19th century the insanitary conditions caused by overcrowded burial grounds had given rise to so much public concern that Parliament was obliged to pass a series of Burials Acts. In 1853 churchyards within the Metropolis were closed to further interments which thereafter took place in the new suburban cemeteries. […]

So, Taylor’s tomb is somewhere in this plot of three-quarters of an acre together with 99.999 people more.

Location: St. Anne’s Churchyard (map)

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