The mausoleum stands on a hill in the grounds of Castle Howard and is raised on a wide grassy terrace encircled with a stone wall. A massive double flight of steps leads up to the main chamber of the mausoleum which is encircled with a peristyle of Doric columns and crowned with a shallow dome. Inside it has a coffered ceiling and richly carved entablature supported by Corinthian columns. This circular funerary chamber rests on the great square plinth formed by the vaulted burial vault below. The latter contains sixty three catacombs.
Grade I (England and Wales)
The mausoleum was built for Charles Howard, 3rd Earl of Carlisle (d.1738) and the magnificence of its design, setting and workmanship (it is said to have cost over £10,000) played a major part in spreading the fashion for such monuments. Horace Walpole famously described it as a building which ‘would tempt one to be buried alive’. Although Howard had discussed the project with Sir John Vanbrugh in 1726, the mausoleum was actually designed and constructed by Nicholas Hawksmoor after Vanbrugh’s death. It was built between 1729 and 1736. The clerk of works was William Etty and the carving inside was carried out by Charles Mitley. The somewhat incongruous balustraded steps and outer bastion wall being added by Daniel Garratt between 1737 and 1742.
The fact that the mausoleum is set in a park reflects Howard’s sceptical attitude to religion; it was intended to be a place of secular, not religious, family commemoration. Hawksmoor’s circular design is derived from Bartoli’s engravings of the Tomb of Gallienus on the Via Appia (wrongly identified by Bartoli as the Temple of Domitian).
BoE: Yorks North Riding (1996), 117-8;
H Colvin, Architecture and the After-Life (1991), 316-21, 33-5, fig. 293, and A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects (1995), 394, 476;
G Headley and W Meulenkamp, Follies (1990), 439.
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Castle Howard (in the grounds),
The Decay of Dyinjg
An article by Christopher Woodward for the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain Newsletter No. 61 Summer 1997 ... more