The Mausolea and Monuments Trust is a charitable trust for the protection and preservation of mausolea and funerary monuments situated in Great Britain and Ireland. It was founded in 1997 by the late Jill Allibone.
Why do mausolea need protection? Because, exposed to the ravages of plants and vandals, they are all too often abandoned and friendless. In law they belong to those that built them, but in many cases the families have died out or lost interest. Parish councils, local authorities and cemetery companies must ensure the buildings do not become dangerous, but are not responsible for their upkeep. So, as private monuments in the public domain, they fall outside the normal patterns of care.
But why preserve such buildings? There are many answers to this question. Some mausolea are major historic buildings while others are important as monuments to the famous. But this is by no means all, these buildings have much to say about the human condition; some make grandiose statements about family pride, others tell poignant stories of love and loss, a number were built in the occupant’s favourite spot (often commanding a magnificent view) and some, built by eccentrics, are simply bizarre. There is no other type of building quite so personal or so diverse.
What is the MMT doing to help? It has taken six ‘friendless’ mausolea into guardianship. These are:
The Bateman Mausoleum, Morley, Derbyshire
The Heathcote Mausoleum, Hursley, Hampshire
The Wynne Ellis Mausoleum, Whitstable, Kent
The Nash Mausoleum, Farningham, Kent
The Guise Mausoleum, Elmore, Gloucestershire
The Boileau Mausoleum, Ketteringham, Norfolk
Two of these, the Bateman Mausoleum and the Heathcote Mausoleum, were in poor condition. We have now fully restored the Bateman and Heathcote Mausolea. We have replaced the oak doors of the Wynn Ellis Mausoleum in replica, incorporating the original grilles, and carried out minor works to the rest of the building. The Nash Mausoleum was handed over to us in good condition so it did not need repair, while the Guise Mausoleum is, and will remain, a maintained ruin. We have also compiled and continue to add to a gazetteer of mausolea from across Great Britain and Ireland. Besides brief histories of the buildings, it contains information on their condition when last visited. By raising awareness of mausolea and, in many cases, their parlous condition, we hope to encourage people to visit them and even, where feasible, help to maintain and restore them.
The work of the MMT has been supported by generous grants from The Pilgrim Trust, English Heritage and other charitable bodies, as well as donations from members of the public.