8 May 2013


Regular visitors to Magonia Review will have noticed that little panel on the right asking for donations to set up a permanent memorial to the Elizabethan magus, scholar, scientist, alchemist, mathematician, astrologer, and navigator, Dr John Dee, in Mortlake church, close to the house where he lived for much of his life and established his great library and alchemical laboratories.
After a long campaign by the John Dee of Mortlake Society, which involved a sometimes frustrating path through the seemingly Byzantine bureaucracy of the Church of England, we finally succeeded in our aim. Last night (7th May, 2013) Dee's biographer Benjamin Woolley unveiled a beautifully inscribed plaque commemorating the doctor's life and his otherwise unmarked last resting place in the church. This is, as far as we know, the only public commemoration of the life of one of the most influential figures of the Elizabethan era anywhere in the world, and as such is sure to become a site for all admirers and students of John Dee to visit.
The plaque was elegantly designed and cut by Emily Hoffnung, one of the finest letter-cutters working today, using slate from a Welsh quarry in a tribute to Dee's own Welsh roots. Here are pictures of the plaque in-situ on the wall, and Ms Hoffnung displaying the plaque before installing it in the church.

Many Magonia readers have responded to our appeal, both by direct donations and by purchasing the book John Dee of Mortlake by Nicholas Dakin, proceeds from the sale of which go towards the costs of the plaque, and we thank you for your generous support. Although the plaque is now in place, we still need to raise further donations to cover the total costs, and we invite you to join the John Dee of Mortlake Society, and to get involved in future events to celebrate John Dee. The next event for your diary will be the now-legendary John Dee Tea, on his birthday, 13th July, which Magonia has now officially designated 'John Dee Day'.

Just click on the picture of Dr Dee in the side panel for full details of the Society.


Ross said...

So what's your interest in John Dee all about? Do you find him amusing? I'm sure he'd love having the supernatural wonders he experienced explained away in "psychosocial" terms.

John Rimmer said...

Local history interest, and a sense of wonder at the man's brain! 'Supernatural wonders' were only a part of his works.

Anonymous said...

How far is St Mary's church from Mortlake? Was the church there when Dee was alive? Does it have a graveyard? Was Dee buried there?

Magonia said...

St Mary's is the parish church of Mortlake, on the High Street in the centre of the town. The church was built by the time Dee lived there, althought the only part of the original structure that survives is the tower. Most of it was rebuilt and extended in the nineteenth century. There is a churchyard. A number of distinguished people are buried there, including a former Prime Minister and two Lord Mayors of London. Dee is not buried in the churchyard, but underneath the chancel inside the church. The exact location of his grave is not known.