Elaborate two-tier funerary monument supporting and enclosing the tomb-chest of John Maple (1815-1900), the founder of the famous furniture store in Tottenham Court Road, London. Western Cemetery, Highgate, on Swain's Lane, Highgate, London N. 6. The monument has a plinth, a pedestal with biblical reliefs and short pilasters, and an upper compartment with colonettes holding a table-top canopy over the tomb. Photographs by Robert Freidus, reproduced here by kind permission of Highgate Cemetery. Caption, commentary and formatting by Jacqueline Banerjee. [Click on the images for larger pictures. See the index for the cemetery for many more views of the cemetery and its monuments.]

The reliefs round the pedestal are worn, but the ones above show episodes from the New Testament. The one on the left, for example, seems to show the parable of the loaves and the fishes, and the one on the right shows Jesus healing a lame man. These are appropriate to what we know of John Maple. He died at his home at Bedford Lodge, Hampstead, after a long period of ill health, and was remembered in a brief obituary in the Times of 6 March 1900 for his benevolence, "the postman and omnibus emplyés of the district being among those in whose welfare he took an active interest" (8).

The monument from a short end, another relief here apparently showing the Ascension.

In partnership with James Cook, Maple had first opened the store at 145 Tottenham Court Road as a draper's, and to sell soft-furnishings, carpets etc. in 1841. Cook left after some years, having by then opened his own store in Knightsbridge (taken over in 1849, this would become the future Harrods). On his own now, Maple rebuilt the Tottenham Court Road premises and focussed on furniture from his own workshops (see Weinreb et al. 526). But it was his go-ahead teenage son, John Blundell Maple (later Sir John Blundell Maple, MP and race-horse owner) who set it on the path to becoming "one of the largest furnishing houses in the world"; under the latter's hands, "the Maple name became an institution, a symbol of quality and respectability" (Cohen 51).

Sources

Cohen, Deborah. Household Gods: The British and Their Possessions. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2006.

Moorhouse, Edward, rev. Wray Vamplew. "Maple, Sir John Blundell, baronet (1845–1903)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Web. 20 May 2014.

"Obituary." Times. 6 March 1900: 8. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 20 May 2014.

Weinreb, Ben, et al. The London Encyclopaedia. 3rd ed. London: Macmillan, 2008.


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Last modified 19 May 2014