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The de Grey Mausoleum Flitton

The de Grey Mausoleum from the south October 2010
The de Grey Mausoleum from the south October 2010

The earliest reference we have to the de Grey Mausoleum is in the will of its builder, Henry, 6th Earl of Kent [CRT130Silsoe11]. The will was made on 19th January 1615 and proved on 15th May following. It reads as follows [note the original spelling].

Effigy of the 6th Earl of Kent August 2011
Effigy of the 6th Earl of Kent August 2011

"Item as touching my bodie being the good Creature of god I will it shall bee buryed at the parish church of Flytton in the County of Bedd. In a little Chappell or buryall place which I have latlie erected and built up there espetiall for that purpose And where I have latlie provided and placed a small monument to bee lefte unto my posterity in remembrance of mee and my late wife the Lady Mary Cotton whoe was sometimes Countesse of Darby … which I the rather caused to bee done for that it pleased Almighty of his gratious goodness to use me as his Instrument for the raysinge of my howse after the same had bine formerlie for some time ecclyppsed by the vaine prodigality of Richard Earle of Kent one of my auncestors [the 3rd Earl who died in 1524 after gambling away most of his estate, Richard was Henry's grandfather's half-brother] to the especiall end and purpose that my posterity and those which are to succeed mee bring putt in mind what hath passed in the times of there Auncestors god may avoid the like evill and ymitate the good as itt chall please Almighty god to give them grace which burial of my body my will and meaninge is shall been done without ymbawminge or anie other superfluous vaine pompe or Charge but onlie havinge some regard unto my honor and state".

The last phrases and the fact that he wished one of a given number of puritan clergy to preach the sermon at his funeral shows the earl's religious sympathies. The expression "lately built" should not be taken too literally but indicates that the mausoleum was built sometime after 1600 – Henry became earl in 1573.

Memorials to the Duke of Kent and his children August 2011
Memorials to the Duke of Kent and his children August 2011

The mausoleum lies east of the east wall of the north aisle extending along the north wall of the chancel, from where it is entered. It is built of colourwashed cement render with brick coping and slate roofs. It has something of the air of a warehouse as it is very plain inside except for the monuments themselves. These, however, make it very memorable. As the Department of Environment listing states: "The de Grey Mausoleum contains one of the finest series of funerary monuments in the country".

The monuments in the oldest part of the mausoleum are as follows:

Memorial to the 6th Earl of Kent August 2011
Memorial to the 6th Earl of Kent August 2011

Henry de Grey, 6th Earl of Kent. This is in polychromed alabaster. It has the recumbent effigies of the Earl and his wife, Countess Mary. The inscriptions read [note the original spelling and lack of punctuation]: "Here lieth the body of the most noble virtuous and worthy peere Henry Grey Earle of Kent Lord Hastings Weisford & Ruthyn Lo: Lieutenant of the county of Bedford: ever loyall to his prince assured to his country kinde to his friends loving to al good men and charitable to the poore, the first erector and founder of this chappell who deceased the 31st of January 1614". The new year in those days began on 25th March not 1st January. His wife's memorial reads: "Mary one of the daughters of Sir George Cotton of Combermere in ye county of Chester knight: first espoused to Edward Earle of Derby & after to this Henry Earle of Kent who deceased the 16 of November in the yeare of our Lord God 1580 – And lieth buried at Great Gaddesden in the county of Hertford in tender affection & good respect of wch lady the said Earle of Kent her husband caused this remembrance to be made of her".

Memorial to Lady Elizabeth Talbot August 2011
Memorial to Lady Elizabeth Talbot August 2011

Lady Elizabeth Talbot who died in 1653; a polychrome marble wall monument with Ionic columns. It reads: "sacred to the memorie of the most excellent person illustrious & incomparable for her true pietie charitie bountie vertue honor and all goodnesse. The Ladie Elizabeth Talbot, Countesse Dowager of Kent, to Henrie Earl of Kent sone and heire of Earle Charles Ladie Hastings Weisford and Ruthin second Daughter & coheire to Gilbert late Earle of Shrewsburie, she departed at hir house in Whitefriers London the VII of December MDCLI being upon the age of LXX and was here interred the VI of Januarie following".

Memorial of the 10th Earl of Kent August 2011
Memorial of the 10th Earl of Kent August 2011

Henry, 10th Earl of Kent: black, white grey marble with two recumbent effigies and two female allegorical figures on the back panel. Unusually his wife lies closer to the viewer and higher up, nearly hiding her husband. Her inscription reads: "Here Lyes the Right Honble AMABELLA late Countess Dowager of KENT Entombed by her Dear Lord HENRY Earl of KENT, to Signifie her resolution to dye with him to the rest of the world, and to Live after so great a Loss only to GOD, and the interest of his Noble Family. This she made good by her exemplary piety and regular Devotion in her Chappel [at Wrest Park] whereto She obliged all her Domesticks every morning and evening to attend her. And Surviving her own Monument 45 years She had time to raise to her Self a more Lasting one, by restoring the Fortune of this Illustrious Family which She found under an Eclipse to near the Height of its antient Splendour. This she effected by her wise Conduct and Large Acquisitions, and by ye Advantageous disposal of her only son ANTHONY Earl of KENT in Marriage with Mary Sole Daughter & Heiress of the Right Honble JOHN Lord LUCAS Baron of SHENFIELD in ESSEX. To the Concerns of her Children and Grand-Children She confined her thoughts & fixed her residence at WREST their usual Seat which She wonderfully improved & imbellished, continually adding to the profit or ornament of that Place until Death gently Seized her August: 17th: 1698 in the 92nd year of her age, & was here interred by ye Right Honble ANTHONY Earl of KENT her most Dutyful Son, who would have caused ys to be here engraven had not a Sudden Death prevented him; but was afterwards perform'd in due acknowledgement of her great beneficence and to perpetuate her pretious Memory to all his Posterity by her Grand-Son, HENRY DUKE of KENT". The earl's inscription reads: "To the Pious Memorie of Henry Earle of Kent, Lord Ruthn, Hasting and Washford sonne of Anth Grey of Burbech in the County of Leycester Earle of Kent also of Amabella Countesse of Kent, daughtr & heyre of Sr Anthony Benn of Surrey Knight, by whome he had issue two sonens & one Daughtr Anthony Earle of Kent (Henry Grey deceased) and the Lady Elizabeth his only daughtr now living. This monumt was erected by Amabella Countesse Dowager of Kent to the memory of her deare Lord, who was the best of husbandes, and the most pious of men. He departed this life in the yeare of Our Lord 1651".

The monument of Lady Jane Hart August 2011
The monument of Lady Jane Hart August 2011

Lady Jane Hart: polychrome marble with a semi-reclining figure. The etxt reads: "1673 Posteritati Sacrum. Here lyeth the Body of the lady Jane HART Wife and Relict of Sr EUSTACE HART, Knt: She was the daughter of JOHN EVELIN Esqr. Of Godson in the County of Surry. By her former Husband Sr ANTHONY BEN Knt She had Issue AMABELLA now Countess Dowager of Kent: Whose pious Care and Duty Rais'd this as A Lasting Monument of Her Affection And of Her Greif This Excellent Lady was A Person of such Unusual Attainments of All Piety and Vertue; that Her Memory Deserves (as it will) to out live Her Marble. She liv'd one of the Best patterns of Life: Dy'd one of the Choicest Spoyls of Death. And will Doubtless Rise one of the most Glorious Peices of the Resurrection. God was pleas'd by giving Her a longer term of Years than Ordinary to bestow upon Her. A Kind of Immprtallity here; and Indeed 'tis Pitty so much Goodness should ever Dye. Wee that survive have this to Doe; to Greive, to Imitate, to Followe and finally to Possess. She Dy'd the 22d of April in the year 1671. And of Her Age the 83d".

Inscription on the south side of the entrance to the newer wing of the mausoleum August 2011
Inscription on the south side of the entrance to the newer wing of the mausoleum August 2011

The remaining rooms in the mausoleum were built in 1705. A licence from the Bishop of Lincoln to Henry, 12th Earl of Kent [L28/19] states that he could: "take in from the Churchyard of Flitton … a small piece of ground to his Dormitory, conteyning in length Thirty Three feet Two inches and Thirteen feet Nine Inches in Breadth". Inscriptions inside the mausoleum itself read: "An Additional Building to this Place expressly commanded by Amabell late Countess Dowager of Kent and intended to be performed by her son Anthony Earl of Kent, had not Death prevented Him but was done by Her Most Dutiful Grandson Anno Dom. 1705" and "Also the further Alteration of the Church & Chancell &c. were Made by Henry Duke of Kent, Ld Lieutenant of the County of Bedford & Custos Rotulorum of the same, one of the Lds of Her Majtys Most Honble Privy-Councell, And Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter".

The outline of the former chancel east window August 2011
The outline of the former chancel east window August 2011

What the inscription does not say is that the vault stole a good deal of the eastern portion of the chancel. This can be seen by the outline of the former chancel east window behind and above the memorial to Thomas Philip, 2nd Earl de Grey. The newer sections of the mausoleum turn what was a simple room into a cruciform shape.

Monument to Henrietta de Grey August 2011
Monument to Henrietta de Grey August 2011

The first monument in the newer part of the mausoleum is to Henrietta, a daughter of the Duke of Kent. It is in marble and has a rather awkwardly reclining bust on the tomb chest. The inscription reads: Here lyeth the Body of HENRIETTA DE GREY Daughter of HENRY Duke of KENT born October the 20th 1703 and Dyed the 4th of Jany 1716/17 Ætatis Suæ 14". The other monuments are as follows.

Effigy of Lord Henry de Grey August 2011
Effigy of Lord Henry de Grey August 2011

Henry de Grey: in grey and white marble with a more naturally posed recumbent figure with a pyramid behind. He was a son of the Duke of Kent. The inscription reads: "Here lyeth the Body of the LORD HENRY DE GREY, 2d Son of HENRY Duke of Kent by JEMIMA Daughter of THOMAS LORD CREWE. Born ye 1st of April 1691 Dyed ye 4th of December 1717 in the 21st Year of his Age".

Effigy of Anthony de Grey Earl of Harrold August 2011
Effigy of Anthony de Grey Earl of Harrold August 2011

Anthony de Grey, Earl of Harrold: a recumbent figure in Roman dress by otherwise unknown sculptor John Dowyer. The monument is in black, white and grey marble. Rupert Ginnis in his Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660-1851 says: "It seems strange that the Duke should have engaged so obscure and second-rate a sculptor to execute the monument to his deeply loved, only surviving son". The inscription reads: "ANTHONY DE GREY, commonly called EARL of HARROLD, Eldest Son of HENRY DUKE of KENT by JEMIMA CREWE his first Wife. Born the 21st of Feby 1696. He Married the Lady MARY TUFTON, Fourth Daughter of THOMAS EARL of THANET, April the 17th 1718. He was Summoned to Parliament by Writ, November the 6th 1718 as BARON LUCAS of CRUDWELL And was 1720 made  one of the Lords of the Bedchamber to His MAJESTY KING GEORGE. He Dyed without issue July the 21st 1723 Lamented by all who knew him, and an unspeakable Loss to his most Noble and Ancient Family of which he was the Brightest Ornament, and the only hopes. This Monument was Erected by his most Loving Father in memory of so Dear and Deserving a Son".

Memorial to Lady Amabell de Grey August 2011
Memorial to Lady Amabell de Grey August 2011

Amabell, Lady Glenorchy: a white marble plaque with a pyramid behind. She was another child of the Duke who died before him. The inscription reads: To the Memory of the Right Honble the Lady AMABELL DE GREY Eldest Daughter of HENRY Duke of Kent by the Honble JEMIMA CREWE his first Wife. VBorn June the 9th 1698. Married to the Right Honble JOHN LORD GLENORCHY Eldest Son of JOHN Earl of Breadalbane February the 20th 1718 by whom she had one Son who died soon after her and one Daughter JEMIMA afterwards MARCHIONESS GREY. Died August the 2nd 1727".

 Memorial to Lady Anne de Grey August 2011
Memorial to Lady Anne de Grey August 2011

Lady Anne Cavendish: a white and veined marble monument. The inscription reads: "Near this Place lyes the Body of the Right Honble the Lady Anne DE GREY one of the daughters of HENRY Duke of Kent by his first Wife JEMIMA Daughter of THOMAS LORD CREWE Born January the 20th 1705/6, Married to the Right Honble LORD CHARLES CAVENDISH January the 9th 1728/9 Died Septber the 20th 1733 leaving two Sons HENRY and FREDERICK".

Urn memorial to Lady Mary Gregory August 2011
Urn memorial to Lady Mary Gregory August 2011

Lady Mary Gregory: another daughter of the Duke of Kent. Her monument is a modest marble urn on a stone pillar. The inscription reads: "To the memory of the Right Honble Lady Mary Gregory, youngest daughter of Henry Duke of Kent and Jemima Crew Duchess of Kent".

Memorial to the Duke of Kent August 2011
Memorial to the Duke of Kent August 2011

Henry, Duke of Kent and his two wives. This grandiose monument in black, white and grey marble was designed by Edward Shepherd and the effigy of the Duke has been attributed to John Michael Rysbrack. The effigy reclines on a coffin. The memorial to the right, with the reclining figure, is to his first wife. His second wife has no effigy but is commemorated on the left. The inscription to the first wife reads: "To the Memory of the most Noble JEMIMA late Duchess of Kent, eldest Daughter of THOMAS Lord Crewe, by his Second Wife. Who was born May 1675 and Married April 20. 1695 to HENRY de GREY afterwards Duke of Kent by whom She had five Sons and seven Daughters, Anthony late Earl of Harrold, Henry, Amabella, Jemima, Lucas, Henrietta, Anne, Jane, a Son dead born, George, Carolina and Mary, most of these her Children She had the misfortune to loose in her lifetime, three only surviving her, Jemima married to the Earl of Ashburnham, Anne married to the Lord Charles Cavendish, and Mary, then an infant. She was a most Excellent Lady in all conditions of Life an Obedient Daughter a Virtuous & Affectionate Wife, a kind and tender Mother, exceedingly good to all about her, Sincere and Constant in her Friendships, Charitable & Beneficent to all who needed her Assistance (especially to those of this Parish) and of true and unaffected Piety towards GOD. She died July 27. 1728. Lamented by all who knew her and was buried in this Vault made by her most loving Husband, who designing to be Deposited by her, Erected this Monument in memory of so deserving a Wife".

The second wife's inscription reads: "In the Vault under this Place lyes interred SOPHIA Second Wife of HENRY, Duke of KENT. Daughter of WILLIAM Earl of PORTLANDby JANE MARTHA Daughter of Sir JOHN TEMPLE. A Lady whole worthy Character and exemplary Behaviour in all the different Relations wherein She was placed as a Daughter, a Wife, a Mother, a Friend, a Mistress and a Christian, deserved and acquired through Life the truest Esteem and Regard from all who approached her and affected them with a Sorrow no less sincere at her Death; which happened June XIV, MDCCXLVIII in the XLVII year of her Age".

The Duke's inscription reads: TO THE MEMORY OF HENRY DE GREY DUKE OF KENT. He succeeded his Father in the Earldom in A. D. 1702 in the reign of Queen Anne he was created Marquis & Duke of KENT, appointed Lord Chamberlain of the Household and Lord Lieutenant of the Countys of Bedford & Hereford: and elected Knight of the Garter: Upon the demise of the Queen he was one of the Regents named by king GEORGE 1; and afterwards served that Prince successively as Lord of the Bedchamber; Constable of Windsor Castle; Lord Steward of the Household and Lord Privy Seal. By his present Majesty King GEORGE 2 he was created Marquis GREY, with a Remainder to JEMIMA CAMPBELL, his Grand daughter by his eldest Daughter Amabell wife of John Lord Glenorchy. By his first Wife Jemima Daughter & Coheiress of Thomas Lord Crewe he had issue four Sons & seven Daughters and by his second, Sophia Daughter of William Earl of Portland, one Son & one Daughter. He died June the 5 A. D. 1740 Aged 69, and was succeeded in his Estate by the said JEMIMA, now MARCHIONESS GREY & BARONESS LUCAS of CRUDWELL, married in his lifetime to PHILIP YORKE Esqr. Eldest Son & Heir apparent of Philip Lord Hardwicke, Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain. His Public Life was adorned by the Great Offices which he successively filled and administered with Reputation & Dignity: but more by his Unvaried Attachment to the Principles of Liberty and the true Interest of his Country. His Private and Domestic Character appeared in his Politeness and Hospitality, the Regular Government of his Family and the Excellent Education of his Children. His Taste and Magnificence are still conspicuous in the Elegant House which he ordered for the Town residence of his Family and in the Beautiful & Spacious Gardens which he laid out and finished at his favourite Seat in this neighbourhood".

Memorial to Philip Earl of Hardwicke August 2011
Memorial to Philip Earl of Hardwicke August 2011

Philip, Earl of Hardwicke: grey and white marble by Thomas Banks. It comprises a seated mourning woman with an urn in front of an obelisk. His inscription reads: Sacred to the memory of Philip Earl of Hardwicke who died May XVIth MDCCXC. His beneficence this neighbourhood can testify, his extensive learning, his public and private virtues were evident to all who knew him. In his domestic character as husband, parent, friend, his grateful family were ever objects of his unceasing tenderness. Erected by his surviving and afflicted wife Jemima Marchioness Grey, who after fifty years of the happiest marriage waits to follow him. Near this place lies interred the body of Jemima Marchioness Grey and Baroness Lucas, who died January XIth, MDCCXCVII. Her excellent and cultivated understanding, her serene & benevolent temper, her polished manners, domestic virtues and exemplary piety will ever be revered and regretted by her children, relations and friends".

Memorial to Mary Jemima Baroness Grantham August 2011
Memorial to Mary Jemima Baroness Grantham August 2011

Mary Jemima, Baroness Grantham: a white marble plaque with grey marble drapes on a black marble background. The inscription reads: "In the Vault beneath are deposited the Remains of MARY JEMIMA Baroness GRANTHAM Second daughter of PHILIP Earl of HARDWICKE and Marchioness GREY Widow of THOMAS Lord GRANTHAM. She was born Feby 9th 1756 and died Jany 9th 1830 in the 71st year of her age. This Tablet is placed here as a Testimony of Respect for her Virtues as a Wife and as a Mother and from a strong feeling of Gratitude for the constant and unvaried kindness the steady and unabated confidence which she shewed from his earliest years to her affectionate son THOMAS PHILIP EARL DE GREY".

Memorial to Frederick William son of Thomas Philip Baron Grantham August 2011
Memorial to Frederick William son of Thomas Philip Baron Grantham August 2011

Frederick William, son of Thomas Philip, 2nd Earl de Grey: a white marble plaque in the shape of a draped coffin surmounted by an urn on a black marble background. The inscription reads: "To the memory of Frederick William only surviving son of Thomas Philip, Baron Grantham, and Henrietta Frances his wife; who died February 6th 1831 in the 21st year of his age".

Memorial to Amabel Elizabeth and Thomas Philip children of Thomas Philip Baron Grantham August 2011
Memorial to Amabel Elizabeth and Thomas Philip children of Thomas Philip Baron Grantham August 2011

Amabel Elizabeth and Thomas Philip, children of Thomas Philip, 2nd Earl de Grey: a marble plaque. The inscription reads: "Sacred to the memory of Amabel Elizabeth third daughter of Thomas Philip, Lord Grantham and Henrietta Frances his wife. Who died on the 15th of September 1827 in the eleventh year of her age. Also to the memory of Thomas Philip first born son of the same. Who died on the 31st March 1810 in the third year of his age".

Memorial to Henrietta Frances Countes de Grey August 2011
Memorial to Henrietta Frances Countes de Grey August 2011

Henrietta Frances, Countess Grey: her monument in black and white marble is by Terence Farnell. The family is depicted mourning around a draped coffin whilst her soul is being carried to Heaven by an angel.

The soul of Henrietta Frances Countess de Grey August 2011
The soul of Henrietta Frances Countess de Grey August 2011

The inscription reads: "SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF HENRIETTA FRANCES, COUNTESS DE GREY, Youngest Daughter of WILLIAM EARL OF ENNISKILLEN. Born June 22 1784, MARRIED TO THOMAS PHILIP, AFTERWARDS EARL DE GREY, JULY 20 1805, DIED JULY 2d, 1848. Endowed with more than an ordinary portion of personal attraction, she was remarkable for the most unfeigned humility and thoughtfully alive to the effect of beauty in others she seemed to be totally unconscious of her own charms. Her thoughts were always more for others than herself. Her charities were numerous but unostentatious. The wants of the Poor were a constant source of her solicitude, and the performance of whatever she thought likely to conduce to their advantage formed an essential pert of her daily duty. Afflicted for many months with a lingering and mortal disease her chief anxiety was to conceal from others the knowledge of her sufferings. Grateful for the blessings she had enjoyed through life she showed with resignation to the will of her MAKER with a blessed hope of His Mercy hereafter. Beloved by all her servants and dependents, courted and admired by all her equals in life, her noble yet gentle character gained the affection of all classes. Those who knew her best loved her most and it may be truly said that she died universally regretted".

Memorial to 2nd Earl de Grey 2011
Memorial to 2nd Earl de Grey 2011

Thomas Philip, 2nd Earl de Grey: a recumbent effigy in white marble on a grey marble tomb chest. The carving was by Matthew Noble.

The burial of the 2nd Earl de Grey in November 1859 was the last one in the vault and his is the last monument in the mausoleum. The mausoleum was repaired and redecorated in 1953 [P12/2/2/11] and a family tree of the de Greys hung in the alcove on the north wall of the mausoleum in 1971 [P12/2/2/12]. The upkeep of the mausoleum was the responsibility of the Parochial Church Council until 1978 when responsibility was undertaken by English Heritage [[P12/2/2/21-23].