Authoritarians have a way of undermining themselves.
The 4th Duke of Newcastle (1785-1851) was a clumsy politician. Queen Victoria sacked him from the post of Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire because he wouldn’t appoint magistrates he disapproved of: “for though his integrity could never be suspected, his discretion was by no means remarkable”.
When his Duchess died giving birth to twins in 1822, he built the stern and chilly Milton Mausoleum at West Markham, Nottinghamshire designed by Sir Robert Smirke. This project, which took eleven years to complete, became a lugubrious farce. Known in the family as the “Dormitory”, it was intended to supersede the cramped family vault at Bothamsall Church, and was designed to accommodate 72 coffins. It was also to serve as a replacement for the tiny medieval parish church of All Saints’, West Markham.
The fourth Duke himself was eventually buried there with his wife, but only fourteen members of the family lie in the vault, and the parishioners of West Markham abandoned its dismal isolation to return to their more homely church in the heart of their village.
Sir Richard Westmacott’s superb monument to the Duchess was carried off to Clumber Chapel, and later returned to its original resting-place where it remains.
The Milton Mausoleum is now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust and can be visited:
http://www.visitchurches.org.uk/findachurch/milton-mausoleum-newark. There is a description at http://www.mmtrust.org.uk/mausolea/view/134/Newcastle_Mausoleum.
Visitor-information for Clumber Park, including the Chapel, is at http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/clumber-park/.
For details of Mike Higginbottom’s lecture Victorian Cemeteries, please click here.