History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: Unusual neo-classical design
Wyatt even displayed his plans to the Royal Academy in 1783, but his schedule was too busy to allow him to take charge of construction (given his dubious reputation for quality control that's perhaps just as well). Construction was executed by George Dance the Younger in 1786, and the result was a slightly modified version of Wyatt's plan. The final cost was in the region of £9000, roughly equivalent to £1 million today.
Access is by a flying staircase, leading to a piano nobile, or inner chamber. At the far side of the chamber is an ornate chapel area of rose marble, rising to a domed ceiling above. Around the rear of the Mausoleum a flight of steps descends to a vaulted crypt lined with openings for 32 coffins.
Though the mausoleum was completed, no burials ever took there. The reason for this oddity is unclear, but one possibility is that the Earl fell out with the Bishop of Rochester, so the Bishop refused to consecrate the building.
In the 1790s landscape architect Humphry Repton was called in by the 4th Earl to create a picturesque landscape garden from the parkland surrounding Cobham Hall. Repton wanted to turn the Mausoleum into a viewing platform, but the Earl refused. Repton's final design made the mausoleum an important focal point, not surprising given its prominent position on a hill high above the Hall.
There is a small parking area on Lodge Lane, at the eastern edge of Cobham village. From there a path leads past a lovely thatched cottage and straight through Cobham Park, rising steadily until you reach the Mausoleum. On a clear day the view is stunning, and it is easy to see why Repton's landscape garden made the building such a prominent focal point.
When we visited there were very helpful National Trust volunteers in the piano nobile and in the crypt and they told us the story of the building and the curious mystery of why it was never used for burials. I left with many a backward glance - and many a photograph - for the Mausoleum is one of the most striking neo-classical buildings I've ever visited.
About Cobham Mausoleum
Address: Cobham Wood, Lodge Lane, Cobham, Kent, England
Attraction Type: Historic Building
Location: Access via a signed footpath through Cobham Wood from a parking area at the end of Lodge Lane. Closest postcode for satnavs is DA12 3BS.
Website: Cobham Mausoleum
Phone: 01732 810378
National Trust - see also: National Trust memberships (official website link)
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Cobham Hall - 0.7 miles (Historic House)
Owletts - 1.5 miles (Historic Building)
Temple Manor - 2.4 miles (Historic Building)
Rochester Guildhall Museum - 3 miles (Museum)
Rochester Castle - 3 miles (Castle)
Rochester Cathedral - 3 miles (Cathedral)
Restoration House - 3.1 miles (Historic Building)
Higham, St Mary's Church - 3.9 miles (Historic Church)
Nearest Accommodation to Cobham Mausoleum: