History of De Grey Mausoleum

The De Grey Mausoleum is attached to the mid-15th-century parish church of St John at Flitton, Bedfordshire. It was first built in the early 17th century, before being expanded in 1704.The mausoleum contains a remarkable collection of funerary monuments spanning three centuries.

Detail of the monument to the Duke of Kent and his two wives in the De Grey Mausoleum, by the celebrated Flemish sculptor John Michael Rysbrack (1694–1770)

Detail of the monument to the Duke of Kent and his two wives in the De Grey Mausoleum, by the celebrated Flemish sculptor John Michael Rysbrack (1694–1770)

Origins of the Mausoleum

The structure was originally a chapel added to the church of St John the Baptist at Flitton by Henry Grey, 6th Earl of Kent (d.1614), in about 1605. According to his will, he intended this  ‘little Chappell or buryall place’ to be a burial place for his family and descendants. The church itself had been built by the de Grey family of nearby Wrest Park in the mid-15th century.

Monuments to Anthony, Henry and Henrietta de Grey, three of the 1st Duke of Kent’s children. They occupy the northern chamber built in the early 18th century as part of the mausoleum’s expansion

Monuments to Anthony, Henry and Henrietta de Grey, three of the 1st Duke of Kent’s children. They occupy the northern chamber built in the early 18th century as part of the mausoleum’s expansion

Expansion

The original chapel consisted of a single chamber abutting the north wall of the chancel and the west wall of the north aisle. This was much altered when the mausoleum was expanded between 1705 and 1710 by Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Kent (d.1740), a courtier and politician under Queen Anne (r.1702–14).

The larger, cruciform-shaped room he created represented a celebration of the growing status of the Grey family and its glorious future.

The monument to Thomas, 2nd Earl de Grey (d.1859), in the south room of the mausoleum

The monument to Thomas, 2nd Earl de Grey (d.1859), in the south room of the mausoleum

19th-century Alterations

It is likely that the southern limb of the mausoleum was substantially altered in the 19th century to accommodate Thomas, 2nd Earl de Grey (d. 1859), his wife, and five of their children. It was Thomas, a keen architect, who in the 1830s demolished the old house at Wrest Park and built a new mansion in the French revival style.

On his death his eldest daughter, Anne, Countess Cowper, inherited Wrest Park. She used her husband’s house in Hertfordshire as her main residence, and the mausoleum passed out of use.

Further Reading

Neale, J, ‘Very privately buried: monuments in the De Grey Mausoleum’, English Heritage Collections Review, 4 (2003), 75–80

Penny, N, Church Monuments in Romantic England (New Haven and London, 1977)

Hann, A and Garland, S, Wrest Park (English Heritage guidebook, London, 2011)

       

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The text on this page is derived from interpretation panels at the site. We intend to update and enhance the content as soon as possible to provide more information on the property and its history.

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