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Drawing of John Baskerville's remains

The Baskerville shroud

John Baskerville was a Birmingham Printer who died in 1775. He didn’t want to be buried in a churchyard because he didn’t believe in God so he was buried in his own garden. When his house (which was right next to where the new Library of Birmingham is now) was sold in about 1820, his body was dug up and put on display for people to come and look at!

The drawing was made of his remains by Thomas Underwood on 15 August 1829 and taken from the MS 897 Pershouse collection of Birmingham illustrations Vol II in Birmingham Archive and Heritage collection.

The writing next to the sketch says:

John Baskerville Printer who died in 1775 at the age of 67 years about, or 5/10 years since, (about 1829) he was taken up from his own premises in the Garden of Easy Hill (Baskerville) House where he was buried and placed in a cellar belonging to Mr. Gibson when this sketch was made - [The body was subsequently (about 1834) removed with the lead coffin to Marston's (Plumber & Glazier) warehouse in Monmouth Street. There it was publicly exhibited at 1s/ per head till the Magistrates interfered and ordered it to be buried. G Jabet].

There is also an actual piece of Baskerville’s shroud above the sketch. Legend has it that if you touch the shroud then you will be cursed!

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