|Memorials in the South Transept of Westminster Abbey, Poets' Corner|
CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
In 1065, Westminster Abbey was consecrated. It was the project of King Edward the Confessor, but Edward himself was sick on this day and couldn't come to the ceremony and died a few days later. The next year William the Conqueror was crowned in the Abbey, a tradition that has continued to this day with a few exceptions.
There is one section of the Abbey known as the Poets' Corner. The first poet buried there was Geoffrey Chaucer in 1400. It wasn't because he was a poet. It was because he had an administrative position with Westminster and lived near the Abbey.
Then in 1599 poet Edmund Spenser was buried near Chaucer and, after that, it was considered a place for writers. Samuel Johnson, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, Rudyard Kipling, and many more are buried there.
|Ben Jonson Public Domain, Link|
Ben Jonson was William Shakespeare's contemporary. He has what might be the most famous epitaph in the Abbey: "Oh rare Ben Jonson." It has been claimed that the inscription could also be read "Orare Ben Jonson" (pray for Ben Jonson), though there is a distinct space between "O" and "rare."
Though he is buried in Westminster, it's not in Poets' Corner. Another oddity is that he is the only person buried there standing upright.
The popular story goes of that burial oddity is that when the Dean of Westminster talked to Jonson about being buried in Poets' Corner, Ben replied, "I am too poor for that, and no one will lay out funeral charges upon me. No, sir, six feet long by two feet wide is too much for me; two feet by two will do for all I want." The Dean promised he could have it.
When Jonson died in poverty in 1637, he was definitely buried upright, as some workers found out in 1849 when they accidentally dislodged his burial spot and his skull, with some red hair attached, rolled down from a spot above his leg bones.
A monument to Jonson was erected in about 1723 by the Earl of Oxford in Poets' Corner which has a portrait medallion and the same inscription as on the gravestone. It seems Jonson was to have had a monument erected by subscription soon after his death but the English Civil War intervened.
Reposted from One Page Schoolhouse