Milton Mausoleum
Milton Mausoleum
This striking early Victorian building was built over the years 1824-1833 by Sir Robert Smirke for the 4th Duke of Newcastle as a monument to his wife. The east end and transepts were intended to serve as a mausoleum for the Duke and his family.


In 1807 Henry Pelham, Duke of Newcastle, married Georgiana Mundy, a wealthy heiress. Together the couple had 14 children; eight sons and six daughters. By all accounts, the couple were devoted to each other, so it hit the Duke hard when Georgiana died in childbirth in 1822, giving birth to twins. One child was stillborn, and the other survived just two weeks. The heartbroken Duke decided to build a church and mausoleum at Milton in the Duchess's memory.

When the new church was completed in 1833 it became the parish church, replacing All Saints Church in West Markham. In 1889 the 7th Duke of Newcastle completed a new church at the family estate of Clumber Park. This new church became the focus of family worship and the old mausoleum was left to decay. It fell into disuse, and in a curious twist of fate, All Saints was reinstated as the parish church in 1949 and the mausoleum left to crumble.

And so it may have if the Churches Conservation Trust had not stepped in in 1972 and rescued it. The Trust now cares for the mausoleum and it is open on specific days from spring through autumn.

The building is of ashlar over a core of brick. It is surmounted by a striking neo-classical domed tower, rising to a lantern in two stages. Despite the tower, the building is thought to be based on a temple that Smirke visited on the bank of the River Ilyus in Athens.

The church was consecrated by the Archbishop of York on 27th December 1833. From the start the nave was intended to serve as the parish church, so the nave and mausoleum are separated by a large neo-classical reredos with Ionic columns.

Duchess Georgiana memorial (c) Richard Croft
Duchess Georgiana memorial

There is an entrance at the west end into the nave and another at the east end into the mausoleum. The nave is rectangular, with a raised sanctuary leading to the mausoleum screen. In the centre of the mausoleum is a rotunda, with north and south tomb chambers splitting off from it.

In the south transept of the mausoleum is a surprisingly plain wooden tablet to the 4th Duke (d. 1851). It pales beside the marble monument to Duchess Georgiana and her twin babies, designed by Sir Richard Westmacott with input from the Duke.

The Duchess is shown reclining in a bed, holding her stillborn daughter in one arm and her son George in the other, while over her head is an angel representing her daughter Anna Maria, who died four months before her mother at the age of fourteen.

The inscription tells us that the Duchess:

'gave birth to fourteen children, ten of whom lived to deplore the bereavement of an incomparable mother. Of the others, Anne Maria preceded her by a few months, and it is humbly hoped led the way to regions of eternal bliss. Two infants were carried by their parent to the grave.'

Under the nave is the Pelham family vault, formed of a central passage with 32 loculi (burial niches) on either side. Only 14 of these are in use.

Unfortunately, vandals in the 1960s badly damaged the Newcastle memorials. The memorial to Duchess Georgiana was taken to Clumber Park where it was restored with the aid of the National Trust and spent several years in the church there before it was returned to West Markham.

In the churchyard is an information panel telling the sad story of a Lancaster bomber that crashed near the church in 1943, killing all six crew members.

Images are copyright Richard Croft and are republished with gratitude under a Creative Commons license