Isaac Watts

In the south choir aisle of Westminster Abbey is a marble mural monument to non-conformist minister and hymn writer Isaac Watts. It shows a relief of Dr Watts seated in his study, with an angel guiding his pen, with his bust above. The monument is signed by sculptor Thomas Banks. The inscription reads:

Isaac Watts D.D. [Doctor of Divinity] Born July 17 1674. Dyed Novr. 25 1748

The fine (fee) for the monument (set by the Dean and Chapter on 13th April 1780 when they gave permission) was paid by Mr Swale. It had been damaged only a few decades after its erection but was restored in 1869 (paid for by Reverend Dr Stoughton).

He was born in Southampton, a son of Isaac and Sarah Watts. Educated locally and at a dissenting academy he then became a tutor and assistant to an Independent Church, at Mark Lane in London, to which he was later elected minister. He wrote poems, religious works, and psalms as well as hymns such as "When I survey the wondrous Cross" and "O God, our help in ages past". He is buried at Bunhill Fields cemetery in London.

Further Reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

The church memorials of Thomas Banks by Julius Bryant in Church Monuments, vol. 1, 1985

There is a monument to Isaac Watts at Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington


17th July 1674


25th November 1748




South Choir Aisle

Memorial Type


Material Type


Isaac Watts
Isaac Watts by Unknown artist

© National Portrait Gallery, London [Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0]

Isaac Watts
Isaac Watts bust

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster