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Hidden away near the River Thames at Isleworth is a Victorian mausoleum built in 1854 to house the tomb of Priscilla Hoste, the beloved mistress of the 2nd Earl of Kilmorey, Francis Jack Needham. Find out more about this intriguing monument, it's hidden depths and how you can explore it for yourself.

The 2nd Earl of Kilmorey built this mausoleum in 1854 to house the tomb of Priscilla Hoste, his beloved mistress. It was originally erected on a plot that he had secured at Brompton Cemetery, but it was later moved twice so that he could keep Priscilla’s tomb near to where he was living.

Francis Jack Needham, known by some as ‘Black Jack’ due to his dark complexion, succeeded his father as the Second Earl of Kilmorey in 1832. At various times, he lived in five different houses in Twickenham, including Gordon House, St Margaret’s House and, further towards Hampton, at Orleans House, Cross Deep and Radnor House.

The Earl’s relationship with Priscilla developed from his friendship with her parents, Captain William Hoste and Lady Harriet Walpole. After Captain Hoste’s death, the Earl, who seems to have become guardian to Priscilla and her siblings, either eloped with or abducted her. This created a great scandal, especially since Priscilla was only 20 while the Earl was 36 years older, and already married. In 1844, their son, Charles, was born at Cross Deep House, by the Thames at Twickenham.

When Priscilla became ill in 1851 with a terminal heart condition, Kilmorey began preparing for her burial and in 1853 wrote to Brompton Cemetery regarding a select plot. It took over a year for the details to be settled and approved by the Home Secretary and cost Kilmorey £1,030 16s 9d. The architect, Mr. H.E. Kendall, designed the £30,000 mausoleum to fit the circular plot at Brompton Cemetery, which measured 1,963 square feet.

The shape of the building has similarities with the shrines at Egyptian Temples, the place where a treasured image of a god was installed. The Victorians were very interested in ancient Egypt. Egyptian imagery often featured in their graves and monuments, as can be seen in Brompton Cemetery. In fact, it contains another imposing mausoleum in the Egyptian style, that of Hannah Courtoy, who was also the mistress of an older man. By coincidence, this completed in 1854 as well.

When Priscilla died in October 1854, her coffin was inscribed with the words “the beloved of Francis Jack Earl of Kilmorey”. Inside the Mausoleum, the Earl installed a marble relief carved in Rome by Lawrence MacDonald (1799-1878) which showed Priscilla lying on her deathbed, with the Earl at her feet and her son Charles by her side. Her burial was a private matter and years later Priscilla’s whereabouts were still a secret as the Middlesex Chronicle had reported that the Mausoleum “contained the body of a dear friend”.

 

Group Bookings:

The Kilmorey Mausoleum is only open for a select number of days per year. If you are interested in organising a group visit, please feel free to contact hello@habitatsandheritage.org.uk .

Groups must comprise a minimum of eight people and contribute a donation to Habitats & Heritage to help maintain the site.

 

Guide Prices

Ticket TypeTicket Tariff
TicketFree

We ask that groups comprise a minimum of eight people and that a donation to Habitats & Heritage is considered to help maintain the site.

Map & Directions

Kilmorey Mausoleum

Type:Historic Site

St Margarets Road, Twickenham, London, TW1 1NJ

Tel: 020 8831 6000

Opening Times

* The Kilmorey Mausoleum is only open for a select number of days per year. If you are interested to organise a group visit, please feel free to contact Habitats and Heritage.

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