The De Grey Mausoleum


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014623

Date first listed: 11-Mar-1996


Ordnance survey map of The De Grey Mausoleum
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Central Bedfordshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Flitton and Greenfield

National Grid Reference: TL 05950 35858


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

The term mausoleum derives from a burial structure at Halicarnassus in Turkey, built for King Mausolos of Caria in c.353BC, and is used to describe buildings designed solely for the purpose of housing and commemorating deceased individuals or groups (usually families). Post-medieval mausolea can be dated either by documentary sources or from architectural styles and commemorative inscriptions. The majority were constructed in the period AD1700 to AD1900, although a few earlier and later examples are known. The structures, usually built in brick or stone, may be free-standing or attached to other buildings, and have a variety of plans, including square, rectangular, circular or pyramidal forms. They were designed to commemorate burial of the wealthier sections of society on a grand scale. Existing examples represent all the major contemporary Christian denominations, with some built by members of the Jewish faith. The buildings usually have a ground or first floor where statuary and/or architectural embellishment are prominent. The actual interments are usually on the ground floor or in subterranean vaults. These storeys may be architecturally elaborate, but are more commonly unadorned. Functional windows in any part of the structure are rare. In most cases the burials are recorded on the commemorative monuments above the interments, although burials may have taken place elsewhere, in which case the memorial acts as a cenotaph. Mausolea were often designed by architects and sculptors of national repute, and represent the fashionable architecture and design of the time. Classical and Gothic revival are common styles, including pseudo-Egyptian and Italian Renaissance. Mausolea are rare, with only about 150 examples known nationally. Largely associated with the residences of high ranking families, their distribution is, however, widespread. Many are located within the gardens of great houses, whilst others adjoin or are adjacent to a nearby parish church. Examples which were designed by architects of national repute, show good evidence of the architectural fashion of the period of construction, retain good interior fittings and deposits (either from a single period or from use within a defined space of time), show unusual or unique architectural or plan forms, or are in direct association with other monument classes, will normally be considered to be of national importance.

The De Grey Mausoleum is well preserved and of an unusual design; the functional windows (formerly in all four arms) being a particularly rare feature. It is considered to be one of the most important repositories of funerary monuments in the country, the memorials spanning an usually wide date range. Consequently, they illustrate a broad spectrum of artistic styles. These illustrate the fashions and tastes of each generation from Baroque and Mannerist forms, through neo-Classical designs to neo-Gothic motifs. The mausoleum and its contents provide a record of the developing social status of the De Grey family, which is reflected in the works of some of the most famous and influential sculptors of the the day, and supported by a wealth of documentary evidence. The De Greys became one of the most prestigious families in the region in the 17th and mid 19th centuries, several members of which rose to positions of great power and influence in the court and government. This historical association is emphasised by the proximity of the monument to the main family residence at Wrest Park, the gardens of which (like the mausoleum) are accessible to the public.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The mausoleum adjoins the north and east sides of the chancel of the Parish Church of St John the Baptist in the village of Flitton. The church, which is not included in the scheduling, dates from the 15th century and is thought to have been built at the instigation of Edmund, Lord Grey of Ruthin. The mausoleum was added to commemorate later members of the De Grey family (whose principal residence, Wrest Park, lies some 3km to the east) and to house their mortal remains. The single-storey structure is cruciform in plan measuring approximately 20m east to west, 17m north to south and 6m high. The walls are constructed in brick, although this is now only visible on the east wall of the north arm. The remainder of the exterior, together with the south wall of the nave, is covered by a 19th century cement render which is scored to resemble masonry. A low stone pediment follows around the base of the mausoleum walls, and a stone string course is left exposed about 1.5m below the roof line. The roofs are constructed of timber and slate with lead cladding and are both pitched and hipped, the main roof being continuous across the east and west arms. The walls are surmounted by crenellated parapets with exposed brick coping, mimicking the architectural style of the nave, except at the ends of the main roof which terminate in Dutch-style curved gables. The parapet has plain inset rectangular panels at intervals which correspond to the positions of functional or blind windows on the walls below. There are two windows in the north wall of the western arm, both with three round headed lights. The easternmost of these has been blocked, although the tracery remains visible on the outside. There are two further windows in the east walls of the north and east arms of the mausoleum. The former has six round headed lights, arranged in two sets of three (one above the other); the latter, four lights in the same design. Both have wooden tracery and contain leaded diamond-panes and original 18th century ornate iron-work grilles. The windows are protected on the outside by iron stanchions with fleur-de-lis heads, and by modern wire screens. The mausoleum, which is Listed Grade I, is entered through a plain, round- headed doorway in the north wall of the chancel which contains an ornate wrought iron grille and gate, painted black, with the monogram of Henry, Duke of Kent, picked out in gold. The archway also contains a 19th century, partly glazed pine screen and door, which is excluded from the scheduling. The interior walls are plain with a uniform plaster surface, which continues over the architectural details. The crossing in the centre of the structure has four tall, semicircular arches opening into each of the chambers. These are all without moulding although within the eastern arm the arch is bracketed by Doric plaster pilasters and a tryglyph entablature. This is matched by a similar arrangement surrounding the eastern window. The floor is composed of stone slabs, arranged diagonally in the crossing and south arm, and square to the walls elsewhere. The mausoleum was constructed in two main stages, with subsequent alterations, a process which is reflected by the dates and groupings of the funerary monuments which it contains. The earliest, western arm was constructed by Henry, Lord Hastings and Earl of Kent in about 1605, by adding extra walls to the angle provided by the chancel and north aisle. The entrance archway was built at this time and a window blocked in the chancel. It was intended to receive the memorial for Henry and his wife, and also that of his father. These were followed by monuments to his relations and heirs spanning the remainder of the 17th century. The earliest recorded memorial is that of Henry's father, Sir Henry Grey, who died in 1545. This consists of a brass of three elements: an inscription plate, a figure of of a youngish man and a shield of arms. The brass was probably moved from within the church to its present location on the western part of the chamber floor. The second memorial, to Henry Grey (the builder of the mausoleum) and his wife, Mary Cotton, is located against the centre of the north wall. This includes a large marble tomb chest supporting two life-size recumbent effigies in polychrome alabaster with marble faces. The earl's effigy, which lies closest to the wall, represents him in red fur-lined robes, a high ruff and coronet, and with hands clasped in prayer. Lady Mary died in 1580, 34 years before her husband, and is buried at Great Gaddesden. Her effigy lies in a similar position, slightly lower than her husband, and is similarly dressed. The front of the tomb chest has two identical shields, quartered with the painted arms of the branches of the family. A different matched pair adorn the sides. A wall panel behind the chest carries the main inscriptions and is flanked by two free-standing columns of streaked red marble supporting composite capitals. The elaborate marble entablature above includes two further shields of arms on pedestals above the capitals. In the centre, separated by small marble skulls, stands the main achievement of arms supported by gilded wyverns. A further gilded wyvern facing to the left surmounts the whole panel. The 5th Earl is notorious for his part, together with the Earl of Shrewsbury, in the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots. To the west, below the remaining window, lies the ledger (floor slab) in black stone to Charles Grey, Earl of Kent, brother and heir of Earl Henry, who died in 1623. A second ledger immediately to the south, although badly worn, records Sir Henry Grey, Knight, Earl of Kent, Lord Weisford and Ruthin, son and heir of Earl Charles, who died in 1639. This slab is thought to seal the entrance to the early vault. To the west of Earl Charles' ledger, against the western wall of the chamber, stands the memorial to his wife, Lady Elizabeth Talbot, Countess Dowager of Kent, who died in 1651. The inscription is in gold lettering on a large, convex panel of black marble contained within a garlanded white marble frame. The frame is flanked by veined, Ionic columns with ornate capitals and surmounted by a segmental pediment beneath a lozenge with achievement of arms (fully coloured). The lozenge is supported by a gilded wyvern and a white marble dog, and bracketed by the incomplete sections of an arch which terminate in gilded florets. The whole stands on a low tomb chest, with a projecting front panel which is carved with the date of its construction (1653). In the north east corner of the chamber, against the north wall, stands the memorial to Henry de Grey, 10th Earl of Kent, and his wife Amabella Benn. This construction accounts for the blocking of the eastern window on this side. The monument includes a large white marble chest on one black step. The long inscription on the front tablet was originally flanked by cartouches, of which only one to the left remains. The chest carries life-sized effigies of the couple in ceremonial dress (also in white marble), with the effigy of the earl lying closest to the wall beneath an architectural surround. A central black wall tablet with the main inscription in gold letters is flanked by two free- standing statuettes representing Justice and Fortitude. The white marble entablature above, supported by two Tuscan columns in black marble, is crowned by an uncoloured achievement of arms supported by the de Grey wyverns. Two further figures (Wisdom and Charity) which were recorded in 1821 are thought to have stood above the capitals, but have since been removed. The 10th Earl died in 1658. The memorial (including both effigies) was erected by his widow in 1653, although she survived her husband by 47 years, dying in 1698 at the age of 92. Amabella, also known as `the Good Countess', is credited with the revival of the family's fortunes; and together with her son, Anthony (the 11th Earl), was responsible for the elaboration of the early house and gardens at Wrest Park. To the south of Lady Elizabeth's memorial, against the south wall of the chamber and near the west corner, stands the last memorial in this group, a monument to Lady Jane Hart, the mother of Amabella Benn who commissioned the work. Lady Jane died in 1671 and the monument is dated by inscription to 1673. It includes a black marble plinth supporting a reclining effigy in white marble. The effigy is clad in draped robes, the head supported by the left arm. The plinth stands above a large rectangular panel in veined white marble displaying a plain convex oval. To either side are consoles in red marble with gadrooned sides resembling the edges of a sarcophagus. The inscription plate above the effigy is in white marble framed by carved gathered drapery. This is attached to a black marble background of low relief columns and architrave, to which are fixed three white cherub heads and two laurel branches in white marble. This is topped by a broken pediment flanking an oval cartouche in white which includes a plain lozenge, surmounted by a skull, and garlanded with fruit and foliage. The memorial is framed within a white marble architectural surround against the wall, the edges of which are finished with pendants of fruit and flowers beneath cherub's heads. The eastern extension of the mausoleum to form the present cruciform structure was completed in two parts by Henry de Grey, the 12th Earl of Kent. A painted inscription below a shield of arms on the west wall of the crossing records the first and major phase which took place in 1705 following the wishes of his grandmother, Amabella. Later alterations, including the rebuilding of the chancel window, were made after the earl was created 1st Duke of Kent in 1710. These changes were referred to on a second matching inscription to the north of the first. The rectangular, brick-lined vault lies beneath the crossing and parts of the north and south arms; and is sealed by a row of five plain stone slabs located against the west wall of the crossing. The second group of monuments represents the Duke, his first and second wives, and their children. The crossing and the north arm contain monuments to six of his eleven children by his first marriage. All but one daughter pre-deceased him. In the north east and north west corners of the north arm are a pair of matching memorials to Henrietta de Grey and Lord Henry de Grey, both of whom died in 1717, the former aged 14 and the latter aged 21. The monuments include large white marble plinths with moulded bases and gadrooned lintels, each inscribed on the front. These support reclining effigies, also in white marble depicting the deceased in classical robes and sandals, flanked by urns issuing guilded wooden flames. Within the corners of the room, behind the effigies are tall grey marble pyramids, each garlanded with a swag of white marble flowers, and with small urns at the apex. The monument to Anthony de Grey, the eldest son who died in 1723, stands against the west wall of the north arm. The base of the memorial is a massive black marble sarcophagus resting on eagle's claws clasping hemispheres. Above this is a grey-veined, white marble slab on which rests a life-size effigy in white marble depicting the deceased in a reclining position, dressed in Roman armour. The inscription is on a plain white marble wall tablet behind the effigy, with a simple moulded surround in black marble surmounted by a large cartouche of arms with wyvern supporters. The monument was erected in 1726 and is thought to be the work of a local sculptor named Dowyer. Anthony, commonly called the Earl of Harrold, was summoned to Parliament in 1718 as Baron Lucas of Crudwell, a title inherited from his grandmother Mary, the wife of Anthony, 11th Earl of Kent. The burials of the 11th Earl and his wife are recorded on ledgers near the church altar, which are not included in the scheduling. The memorial to Lady Amabell de Grey, who died in 1727, is situated in the north east corner of the crossing. This includes a large simple inscription panel in white marble with a moulded surround in grey-veined marble, surmounted by a broken pediment flanking a cartouche of arms supported by a pair of stags, which formed part of the arms of her husband John, Lord Glenorchy, the eldest son of the Earl of Breadalbane. The pediment is flanked by two swagged urns, one to the left requiring a niche in the side of the arch. Against the wall behind is a large black pyramid with white borders. The monument to Lady Ann de Grey (died 1733) is located to the south east corner of the crossing. This memorial is similar to that of Lady Amabell, but has the addition of a gadrooned lintel above the inscription tablet, and the shield of arms above forms part of an additional panel with carved drapery. The upper panel is surmounted by a broken pediment, the two halves bracketing a single urn. The monument to Henry de Grey, 1st Duke of Kent, and father of the above, takes up the whole northern wall of the eastern chamber. It was erected between 1728-30, after the death of his first wife, Jemima. The alterations to the chamber, which include the addition of plasterwork columns and pediments surrounding the entrance and window, are thought to be contemporary. The monument includes a plinth which runs along the length of the room at about 1m from the floor. This is divided into three roughly equal parts, the central third projecting forward slightly and carrying the inscription for Duke Henry who died in 1740. Above this section stands a grey marble sarcophagus on which rests a white marble effigy of the duke in reclining position clad in Roman dress and holding a coronet. The wall behind is clad in veined marble and is similarly divided. Behind the effigy of the duke is a framed white wall tablet inscribed to the duke. To the right is a similar wall tablet carrying the inscription for Jemima, whose reclining effigy, classically draped, rests directly on the plinth below. To the left is a matching inscribed wall tablet to Henry's second wife, Sophia, who died in 1748, although there is no accompanying effigy. On the front of the plinth below, an inscription tablet records the death in 1780 of Lady Anne Sophia, the duke's daughter by his second wife. The effigies are thought to be by the celebrated sculptor, Michael Rysbrack, who is known for the Newton monument in Westminster Abbey, and is also credited with the first representation of an English aristocrat (the Earl of Nottingham) as an ancient Roman. The monument itself is signed by the architect, Edward Shepherd, who is also thought to have designed the alterations to the room. Henry, formerly the 12th Earl of Kent, was a supporter of William and Mary during the Glorious Revolution, and became Lord Chamberlain and Privy Councillor in the early reign of Queen Anne. He was created Marquis of Kent in 1706 and Duke of Kent in 1710. During Queen Anne's final illness he served on the Council of Regency which ensured the smooth succession of George I. Under George he was later appointed Lord Steward of the Household and Lord Privy Seal. The formal gardens at Wrest reached their zenith under his direction, and included the construction of many of the garden buildings, most notably the banqueting house designed by Thomas Archer. The final memorial of this group is a single urn on a cylindrical column located in the south east corner of the north arm. The inscription on the urn refers to Lady Mary Gregory, the youngest daughter of the duke, and the only child of his first marriage to survive him. She died in 1761, although this information is not recorded on the monument. The third group occupies the south wall of the eastern chamber and commemorates Phillip Yorke, 2nd Earl of Hardwicke, who was married to Jemima, Marchioness de Grey and Baroness Lucas (the granddaughter and heir of Duke Henry), and their daughters Amabel and Mary Jemima. The central memorial is to Phillip Yorke who died in 1790, but also commemorates his wife who died seven years later. It includes a large basal plinth supporting a second, smaller plinth which carries the inscription. Above this is a relief carving of a grieving woman in flowing dress, seated by an urn, and set against a grey- veined marble wall plate in the shape of an obelisk. The plinth is signed by Thomas Banks, who is considered to have been the first truly neo-Classical sculptor; his most celebrated work being The Death of Germanicus at Holkham Hall, Norfolk. Phillip was a classical scholar and successively Member of Parliament for Reigate and Cambridge before entering the House of Lords in 1764. In the same year he inherited Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire and was appointed High Steward of Cambridge University. In addition, he had been made Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire in 1757, and Privy Councillor in 1760. Both he and his wife travelled extensively visiting the great gardens of the period. These visits inspired some changes to the garden at Wrest. To the right is mounted a white marble cartouche on a shaped black wall tablet containing an inscription to Mary Jemima, Baroness Grantham and Countess de Grey, who died in 1830. The cartouche is framed by grey marble drapery held back by a cherub carved in relief from white marble. To the left is the memorial to Amabel, Baroness Lucas of Crudwell and Countess de Grey, who died in 1833. This comprises a large black inscription tablet crowned by a Baroque cartouche containing a tinctured lozenge of arms. The whole is set against a grey wall plate and flanked by Tuscan columns in veined grey marble, supported by consoles in the form of cherub's heads clad in stylised heads of lion's skins. The statues of two draped cherubs rest on the pediment above. Both monuments to Phillip's daughters are signed by W T Kelsey of Brompton. The fourth and final group of memorials is located in the southern arm of the mausoleum and refers to Thomas Phillip, the 2nd Earl de Grey (son of Baron Grantham and Mary Jemima, Countess de Grey), his wife, and three of their children who pre-deceased them. The earliest of these, to Thomas Phillip who died in 1810 aged 3 years and to Amabel Elizabeth who died in 1827 aged 11 years, is located on the south wall. It is a white wall tablet in the shape of a sarcophagus with garland on a grey backplate. A second tablet, placed symmetrically on the east side of the same wall, records Frederick William, the eldest son of the 2nd Earl, who died in 1831, aged 21. The memorial, a white wall plate of a draped sarcophagus topped by a flaming urn, is by Matthew Wharton Johnson of London. Separating these two tablets is the elaborate memorial to Henrietta Frances, Countess de Grey, the wife of the 2nd Earl, who died in 1848. The monument was erected in 1853. It includes a large black marble plinth above which, in white marble and carved in various stages of relief, are depicted a draped coffin with a large obelisk in the background. Two weeping women lie prostrate across the coffin, a child kneels at the foot and two further children stand behind it. In the centre is the widowed husband, his head buried in his left hand in an attitude of despair. In the low relief background stands a fourth child and four female mourners, and above, near the top of the obelisk, an angel bears the soul upwards towards heaven represented by a faint sunburst at the apex. The monument was carved by Terence Farrell, whose other works include figures of the four seasons for the terrace at Wrest Park. The memorial to Thomas Phillip, 2nd Earl de Grey; the last to be placed in the mausoleum, lies against the east wall of the south arm. The memorial to the earl, who died in 1859, consists of a large tomb chest with Gothic panels bearing shields of arms across the front and sides. The chest supports a life- sized effigy of the earl in garter robes, carved by Matthew Noble. Noble later carved the Wellington Memorial for Manchester, and became one of the most popular sculptors of the day. The 2nd Earl was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty in 1834, and Privy Councillor in the same year. Between 1841 and 1844 he was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and in 1848 he served on the New Palace Commission which judged designs for the Palace of Westminster. The earl was a well-known amateur architect who, much influenced by French design, undertook the demolition of the old house at Wrest Park and the construction of the present house between 1833 and 1839. In 1834 he was elected as the first president of the Institute of British Architects. The chancel window in the west wall of the south arm is contemporary with the extension of the mausoleum in 1705, and the three main lights with trefoil heads below four smaller lights of the same pattern: the whole contained within a perpendicular arch. A similar window in the east wall of the southern arm is shown in an engraving dated 1821, but was blocked when the 2nd Earl's memorial was added. The single recessed columns and moulding remain visible framing the tomb chest. The rendering within the arch is inscribed with the text from St John's Gospel "I am the resurrection and the life....shall never die". In order to maintain a source of light to the chancel window, the southern chamber was re-roofed c.1860 and fitted with dormers. The replacement roof has wooden dentil cornices terminating in plain wooden shields. The mausoleum was taken into the care of the Secretary of State in 1978 at the request of the owner, Baroness Lucas and Dingwell, and with the agreement of the Consistory Court of the Diocese of St Albans. It has since been repaired and maintained by the Department of the Environment and its successor, English Heritage. The walls which form the east and north sides of the nave and the east end of the north aisle are considered to be part of the church and are not included in the scheduling. The iron grille set within the entrance arch, however, is considered to be an integral part of the monument and is included together with the memorials and the vaults below. The modern floodlight attached to the east wall of the south arm and the wire screens which cover the windows are excluded from the scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 27115

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Campbell-Kease, J, A Companion to Local History Research, (1989), 321
Cole, D, Beresford, C, Shackell, A, Historical Survey of Wrest Park, (1993), 11-35
Frazer, A, Mary Queen of Scots, (1975), 625-635
Halliday, F E, An Illustrated Cultural History of England, (1969), 189-219
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Bedfordshire, Huntingdon and Peterborough, (1968), 91-92
Treacher, W, Wrest And Its Surroundings, (1899), 21-33
Urban, , 'The Gentlemans Magazine' in Monuments of the Grey Family at Flitton, (1821), 393-4
conversation with the Incumbent, Nixon, B L, The later vault ay the De Grey Mausoleum, (1994)
De Grey Mausoleum, Inscription on Memorial to Amabell de Grey, (1727)
De Grey Mausoleum, Inscription on Memorial to Henry Grey and Mary Cotton, (1614)
De Grey Mausoleum, Inscription on Memorial to Henry, Ist Duke of Kent, (1740)
De Grey Mausoleum, Inscription on Memorial to Phillip Yorke, Earl of Hardwicke, (1790)
De Grey Mausoleum, Inscription on the Memorial to Henry de Grey and Amabella Benn, (1658)
De Grey Mausoleum, Inscriptions on Memorials to Henrietta and Lord Henry de Grey, (1717)
Record of transactions, HBMC, Ancient Monuments Terrier (Flitton, De Grey Mausoleum), (1984)
Williams, D and Findlay, D, De Grey Mausoleum: Proposed Transfer to DoE Guardianship, 1977, Council for Places of Worship report

End of official listing