To provide you with the best experience, cookies are used on this site. Find out more here.

Allow cookies

Darnley Mausoleum


Type:Cemetery / Mausoleum

Lodge Lane, Cobham, Gravesend, Kent, DA12 3BS

Tel: 01474 816764

Darnley Mausoleum


The Earls of Darnley were usually buried in Westminster Abbey, but by the late 18th century, their vaults were full. In his will, the 3rd Earl, John Bligh, left instructions for a mausoleum to be built in Cobham Park, Kent, where he and his descendants could be laid to rest in a grand manner.

Lord Darnley's ideas for his mausoleum were possibly inspired by the Roman remains, including the monumental pyramid mausoleum of Cestius, he saw on the 'Grand Tour'. He may also have been influenced by French artist Nicholas Poussin's picture 'The Sacrament of Ordination'.

Of the detailed instructions he left in his will, it clearly stated that he wanted a square stone building with a 'prominent pyramid' surrounded by a dry moat.

James Wyatt and George Dance the Younger

After the Earl's death, the family commissioned architect James Wyatt to design a mausoleum following the instructions set out in his will.

Wyatt exhibited his design at the Royal Academy in 1783, but due to a heavy workload, the mausoleum was built under the supervision of another famous architect, George Dance the Younger.

Left unused

The mausoleum was completed in 1786, at a cost of £9000 (well over £1 million in today's prices), but there was a problem... For reasons that remain unclear, possibly involving a dispute with the Bishop of Rochester, the Darnley Mausoleum was not consecrated and could not be used for burial.

Change of use

Although unused, the mausoleum was the most prominent monument in Cobham Park, with the pyramid visible from some distance towering above the tops of the trees.

Landscape designer Humphry Repton suggested the mausoleum be converted to a viewing platform, but the idea never became reality. Instead, the building retained its sombre grandeur in a setting he redesigned to provide enhanced views across the park and the estate.


Map & Directions


  • Regional and Miscellaneous -Tourism South East Member 2018 Tourism South East Member 2018 2018

Opening Times

* Mausoleum – open selected Sundays and BH Mondays April – September – see website for details

What's Nearby

  1. Cobham Hall

    A large house standing in 150 acres of Repton's landscape garden and dating from 1587. It…

    0.81 miles away
  2. Diggerland

    …where children and adults…

    1.85 miles away
  3. Owletts - National Trust

    Owletts is a small red-brick Charles II house with an interesting garden.

    2.02 miles away
  1. Temple Manor

    A 13th century great chamber, on a vaulted undercroft, of a manor house of the Knights…

    2.06 miles away
  2. Rochester Castle

    One of the finest keeps in England. Also the tallest, partly built on the Roman city wall…

    2.78 miles away
  3. Guildhall Museum

    Discover the history of Medway from pre-historic times to the present day at the…

    2.84 miles away
  4. Rochester Cathedral

    Rochester Cathedral is the second oldest cathedral in England having been founded in AD…

    2.88 miles away
  5. Huguenot Museum

    The Huguenot Museum tells the story of Britain's first refugees: the skills they brought…

    2.96 miles away
  6. Eastgate House

    Situated in the heart of historic Rochester, Eastgate House featured in the work of…

    3 miles away
  7. St Peter's Church Sandwich

    St Peter's Church Sandwich

    3.26 miles away
  8. Secret Cold War Bunker

    Refurbished and re-equipped 1950s' underground command post for Gravesend's rescue…

    3.64 miles away
  9. The Central Theatre

    Located in the heart of Chatham town centre, this beautiful 965-seat venue is already…

    3.83 miles away
  10. The Brook Theatre

    Formerly Chatham Town Hall, The Brook Theatre is a hive of entertainment, activity and…

    3.85 miles away
  11. The Historic Dockyard Chatham

    2016 is a year of continuous discovery and exploration at The Historic Dockyard Chatham,…

    3.88 miles away
  12. Upnor Castle

    This attractive, turreted castle is set in a picturesque village area that is backed by…

    3.99 miles away
  13. Royal Engineers Museum

    There is something for all the family. Zulu War items, Boer War, World Wars I and II,…

    4.27 miles away
Previous Next