Whether you’re fascinated by British history, or simply want to pay your respects, these 10 famous graves are incredible monuments to Brits who changed the world, from ground-breaking scientists to world famous writers.
You can also check out Funeral Guide’s Famous Grave Finder to discover more famous final resting places across the UK. Browse the interactive map to see which iconic figure, military hero or legendary royal is laid to rest near you.
1. J.R.R. Tolkien
Fantasy writer John Ronald Reuel Tolkien created a whole world of mythology and wonder in his seminal work, the Lord of the Rings. He is buried with his beloved wife, Edith, in Wolvercote Cemetery, Oxfordshire, their gravestones marked with the names Lúthien and Beren. In Tolkien’s Middle Earth lore, Lúthien is a beautiful elf who persuades the Valar, a group of angel-like beings, to spare the life of her warrior lover Beren.
2. Charlotte and Emily Bronte
Photo by Merrie Haskell via Flickr.
Sisters Anne, Charlotte and Emily Bronte published their now world-renowned novels under the pen names of the Bell brothers. Emily died from tuberculosis and never lived to see the success of her novel Wuthering Heights, and Charlotte, author of Jane Eyre, died from a complicated pregnancy seven years later. They are both buried in the family crypt in their local church in Haworth, Yorkshire. Anne Bronte, however, is not buried with the rest of the family, having died away from home in Scarborough.
3. Horatio Nelson
Photo by Tomasz Dunn via Flickr.
Nelson, Britain’s most iconic naval hero, was shot and killed at the Battle of Trafalgar, his final victory against the French navy. It is said that his final words were, “God and my country.” His impressive marble tomb in St Paul’s Cathedral was originally commissioned for Henry VIII. Inside the black sarcophagus is a wooden coffin made from the mast of a captured French ship.
4. Queen Victoria
Photo by Mark Percy via Geograph.
Most of Britain’s monarchs are buried in Westminster Abbey, but Queen Victoria had other ideas. She carefully planned a special final resting place for herself and Prince Albert, whose death she never stopped mourning, in the Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore, near Windsor. She was buried in a white dress with her wedding veil, alongside one of Prince Albert’s dressing gowns. Rumour has it that she was also buried with a lock of hair from her servant, John Brown, clasped in her hand.
5. Lord Byron
Photo by Phil Evans via Geograph.
Now considered one of Britain’s greatest poets, in his day Lord George Gordon Byron was a controversial figure. His lifestyle and behaviour caused such scandal that he was refused a burial in Westminster Abbey after his death because of his “questionable morality”. As a result he resides in Hucknall, close to his ancestral home in Nottinghamshire. However, some people claim that Byron’s heart is buried in Missolonghi, Greece, where he died, after the Greeks hailed him a hero for his help in the revolution against the Ottomans.
6. Charles Darwin
Photo by Stanislav Kozlovskiy via Wikimedia.
The world has undoubtedly been changed by the scientific work of Charles Darwin. His theory of evolution, sometimes called ‘survival of the fittest’, completely revolutionised our understanding of the natural world. His work remains controversial, but his influence in undeniable. His was given the honour of a burial in Westminster Abbey, close to the tomb of Sir Isaac Newton. His last words to his wife were: “I am not the least afraid of death.”
7. Florence Nightingale
Photo by Maigheach-gheal via Geograph.
The founder of modern nursing, the Lady with the Lamp is an icon of the Victorian age. Her career began tending wounded soldiers during the Crimean War, after which she set up the world’s first non-religious nursing school. She lived to the age of 90 and died in her sleep. Her family refused a burial at Westminster and she was instead laid to rest in East Wellow, Hampshire, near her childhood home.
8. Richard III
Photo by P.L. Chadwick via Geograph.
Richard III’s short reign of two years was ended at the Battle of Bosworth Field during the War of the Roses. His death ended the long-running Plantagenet dynasty and ushered in the beginning of the Tudor era. His body was buried without ceremony or a gravestone to mark it. Lost for over five hundred years, Richard III’s body was found under a car park in Leicester in 2012, identified with carbon dating and DNA by archaeologists. He was given a burial fit for a king, with a tomb in Leicester Cathedral.
9. David Lloyd George
Prime Minister between 1916 and 1922, David Lloyd George led Britain through the First World War and helped create the modern welfare system. He remained an important political figure until his death, aged 82. He is buried by the River Dwyvor in Wales, his grave marked only by a large boulder with no inscription, according to his wishes. Afterwards a monument was erected around the grave to better mark his final resting place.
10. Robert Burns
Photo by Kevin Rae via Geograph.
Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns is regarded as Scotland's national poet, writing poetry in Scots, Scottish dialect and English. In 1796 he died, aged just 37, due to heart problems. His widow decided on a simple stone slab to mark his grave in St Michael’s Churchyard, Dumfries. However, the powers-that-be decided that this was not a fitting tribute to Scotland’s bard, and in 1817 Burns was moved to a new grand mausoleum in the same churchyard.