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The final years

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Bridgetower's grave   Kensal Green cemetery chapel
Bridgetower's grave in Kensal Green cemetery
Copyright © Peter Hughes
  Kensal Green cemetery chapel: Bridgetower is buried in the catacombs
Copyright © Peter Hughes
     
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Auction of Bridgetower's property after his death    
Auction of Bridgetower's property after his death
British Library Puttick & Simpson catalogue (30 June 1860)

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The end of Bridgetower's life is shrouded in mystery. He was rumoured to have died in 1850, but his death certificate shows that “George Polegreen Bridgetower, Gentleman”, died at 8 Victory Cottages, a small back street in Peckham, on 29 February 1860, and was buried at Kensal Green cemetery. Victory Cottages was apparently also known as Norfolk Street , and the rate book records the inhabitant of No 8 as 'Bridge'. In September 1859, a few months before his death, Bridgetower made a will leaving his entire property, under £1000, to the sister of his wife, maiden name Drake.

Bridgetower's life was extraordinary in its talent, determination, and faithfulness to his art. Like his great contemporary the violinist Viotti, music was the medium which transformed his circumstances and sustained him. Like his father, Bridgetower learned everything there was to learn from his environment and turned it into a gem of performance which he shared with his colleagues, his audiences and his pupils. To the generations that succeeded him, Bridgetower's legacy was not only about music, it was also about the possibility of transforming and transcending one's circumstances, and about the contribution it was possible to make in shaping one's environment, even under the most difficult circumstances.

The final irony was that this African Prince turned out to be - undeniably - a prince of European culture.

References and further reading

Read a fuller version of Mike Phillips' essay in Adobe Acrobat (pdf format) 104KB.

Guest-curated for the British Library by Mike Phillips

Introduction Introduction
Alexander Pushkin Alexander Pushkin
Alexander Dumas Alexandre Dumas
George Polgreen Bridgetower
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
John Archer John Archer
 
 
 
Discover more:
Introduction
Introduction
Alexander Pushkin
Alexander Pushkin
Alexandre Dumas
Alexandre Dumas
George Polgreen Bridgetower
Background and early years
Background and early years
Arrival in England and GPB's debut in Bath
Arrival in England and debut in Bath
First successes in London
First successes in London
GPB, Brighton and the Prince of Wales
Bridgetower, Brighton and the Prince of Wales
Play it again Mr bridgetower - Beethoven and Vienna
Play it again Mr Bridgetower - Beethoven and Vienna
Life as a professional musician
Life as a professional musician
The final years
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
John Archer
John Archer
 
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