Today I said farewell to the woods we love so much: a storm was brewing, the distant hills masked behind a thin mist.
So green is this land, so mysterious the mausoleum, so silent the path that dwindles its way to the shore…
Yet once we have gone, we will still be haunting this land, invisible, so quiet even the birds will think it is a mistake: in truth, we will walk the streets of the city, holding on the tenuous link between now and yesterday…
How long is Now?
It stands at the highest point, in the historical landscape of Cobham Park, in West Kent. From there one can see the Thames estuary to the North, and south-westwards, the rolling North Downs.
In 1767, the 3rd Lord Darnley left clear instructions in his will that “a chapel or mausoleum be built as a family burying place… on top of the hill in my Park at Cobham called Williams Hill.”
After his death, his widow asked James Wyatt, one of Britain’s great architects, to design the mausoleum. Wyatt’s design was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1783 and the mausoleum was built under the supervision of another architect, George Dance the Younger.
The mausoleum was never consecrated, so couldn’t be used; instead it became a landscape feature in the wood, outside the historic parkland of Cobham Hall, which Humphry Repton designed.
Falling into decline after the Second World War, the mausoleum suffered several attacks of vandalism. It was eventually purchased and restored by the Cobham Ashenbank Management Scheme.
From: “Darnley Mausoleum – a rescue story”, National Trust.