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.
We walk along the high brick wall, the road side covered with snowdrops and daffodils, soon to see the old castle, perched on the hill, surrounded by meadows, ochre stones on blue sky.
Few trees are yet in bloom: this is the time of year when Spring is lurking, not yet triumphant, but already more than a promise.
Soon, we take the narrow lane, bordered with hedges full of busy birds, I am following you, my eyes taking in the beauty of the morning and your supple steps, your curves and the sloping hills in one exalted breath.
Among the crocuses and the primroses we sense hints of more wealth to explore, perhaps a little later, the air is still cold…
In the middle of this landscape I am thinking of all the other places in the world, unhappy, and ravaged by cruelty and greed: what made us so fortunate?
We have been confined to short jogging through paddles and mud, and to the gym, since November. The atrocious weather that plagued these isles during that time was not conducive to riding! Today, at long last, I gathered the momentum to dust the old Marin, check the chain, inflate the tires, and find the bits and pieces of a comfortable ride…
Inevitably it started raining as soon as I sat in the saddle, but who cares? Soon the sunshine reappeared. This was intended as a warming up short ride, and it was. The roads are inundated everywhere, and the road surface tells the tale of cut highways budgets, and of the shameful misery of public services in the UK. Yet I enjoyed the ride enormously, the first for many weeks. It was all there, the cool air of Kent, the courteous drivers – yes, you read me right – and the smiling college girls!
The old Marin is doing well, albeit being in need of some rejuvenation on the mech and chain side. The middle sprocket is now polished to the extent of slipping every ten meters, which means pedalling higher or lower, depending on slope and spirit! This is good, a good start for the long ride, an early Spring permitting.
No pic this time, but watch this space!
No, the pic is not me, nor mine, source: neurostatic