Restoration of James Wyatt’s Darnley Mausoleum Recognized

Posted in on site, the 18th century in the news by Editor on December 19, 2009

Now in the hands of the UK’s National Trust, the Darnley Mausoleum at Cobham Park is the recipient of this year’s Country House of the Year Award from from Country Life (2 December 2009). From the magazine’s website:

Country House of the Year — The Darnley Mausoleum, Cobham, Kent

James Wyatt, Darnley Mausoleum at Cobham Park 1786 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Built on the instructions of the 3rd Earl of Darnley in 1786, this mausoleum is one of the great masterpieces of the architect James Wyatt. The story of its recent restoration as part of an £8 million project to revive the whole park at Cobham is one of the most heartening of recent years. It has been effected through a remarkably complex partnership of bodies, including Gravesham Borough Council, Cobham Hall, English Heritage, Union Railways, Natural England, Kent County Council, the Woodland Trust and the National Trust. Following the break-up of the Cobham estate in 1957, the mausoleum became neglected, and the construction of the M2 motorway in 1963 made it a magnet for joyriders and vandals. The nadir of its fortunes came on Guy Fawkes Night in 1980, when the crypt was packed with petrol cans and tyres and ignited. The subsequent explosion reduced the interior to ruin. Stimulus for the project came from compensation money paid out when the Channel Tunnel Railway Link cut through the northern edge of Cobham Park. A trust was set up to drive forward the restoration as part of a more ambitious park project. The architect for the restoration was Purcell Miller Tritton, the main contractor was Paye, and Worthington Stone Carving has been responsible for the admirable masonry repairs and replacements to the mausoleum. The architectural work was underpinned by historical research by Roger Bowdler of English Heritage. Having been awarded Heritage Lottery funding in 2003, the restored mausoleum was handed over to the National Trust this year and is open to the public.

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