Tomb of Bishop Wilberforce,” by H. H. Armstead and Sir George Gilbert Scott

Tomb of Bishop Wilberforce. H. H. Armstead (sculptor, 1828-1905) and Sir George Gilbert Scott (architect). 1878. Various materials, including alabaster. South Transept, Nave. Winchester Cathedral.

The third son of the famous abolitionist, Bishop Wilberforce had served as Archdeacon of Surrey and Dean of Westminster before becoming Lord Bishop of Oxford (1845-1869), and after that, from late 1869, Bishop of Winchester. He had also been Chaplain to Prince Albert, Lord High Almoner of the Royal Household (Wilberforce 320), and an important promoter of Anglican sisterhoods. Renowned as a speaker and for his anti-Darwinism, he was very much a national figure. His tendency to be unctuous earned him the nickname "Soapy Sam," but he has been more respectfully designated "Remodeller of the Episcopate" (Mee 12).

Lavishly detailed though it is, perhaps the most appealing part of the monument is where the two little angels pray with tilted faces” by the bishop's head. Bishop Wilberforce has several other memorials, including the church of St Giles in Graffham, Sussex, which was rebuilt in his memory” by G. E. Street, and the spire of St Martin's, Dorking, in Surrey, which was also dedicated to him. There is a simple memorial at Abinger Hammer in Surrey, too, at the rural spot where he suffered the riding accident that killed him. However, his last resting place was beside his wife Emily at Woolavington, Sussex, near what was once the Wilberforce family home.

Other Views and Related Material

Photograph and text Jacqueline Banerjee. [You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Burns, Arthur. "Samuel Wilberforce (1805-73)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Viewed 22 November 2009.

Mee, Arthur, ed. Surrey: London's Southern Neighbour (The King's England series). London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938.

Wilberforce, Reginald G. The Life of the Right Reverend Samuel Wilberforce, DD, Lord Bishop of Oxford and Afterwards of Winchester. Vol. 3. London: Murray, 1883.

Content last modified 27 November 2009

Reformatted 16 March 2015