Photographs by Robert Freidus, except for the last two (of the interior), which are by Dr. Ian Dungavell, who has very kindly permitted us to reproduce them here. Brookwood Cemetery has also kindly allowed us to reproduce these photographs here. Historic image download by the author. [Click on the images for larger pictures.]

The Colquhuon Mortuary Chapel,
by John Johnson (1807-1878)

The Colquhuon Mortuary Chapel, Brookwood Cemetery, Surrey. John Johnson (1807-1878), architect, William Boulton, sculptor. 1858. Bath stone. Though hidden away in the woods at vast Brookwood Cemetery, and sadly in need of restoration, this is a typically finely-wrought neo-Gothic gem by this architect. As for the sculptor, the cemetery's records locate him in nearby Guildford, but he may be the same William Boulton who opened a mason's workshop in Southwark, South London, which employed nineteen craftsmen ("William Boulton"). The dates of the London Boulton were c.1822-1871: the death of a William Boulton aged 49 was registered in St Olave, Southwark, in the latter year (FreeBMD). Whether or not these were the same person, the sculptor who worked for Johnson here was clearly a very skilled one.

The gable at the front of the chapel. Left to right: (a) A desolate knight mourns in the left-hand corner of the gable. (b) The whole gable. (c) A diminutive Christ gives a blessing from the top centre of the gable. (d) Another mourning knight in the right-hand corner.

The chapel was acquired by the Colquhouns and is usually referred to as their mausoleum. Indeed, it is seen as the earliest mausoleum at Brookwood ("List of Items"). But it was featured in the Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal of 1 February 1863 as their "mortuary chapel" (37). The Colquhouns were a very distinguished family. James Colquhoun (1786-1855) was a diplomat, as was his son Patrick Macchombaich Colquhoun (1815-1891), who had several important postings in different parts of Europe, and became fluent in many European languages. Apart from receiving various honours abroad, he was also a top-class oarsman, and after retiring from the diplomatic service became an eminent barrister — eventually Master of the Bench of the Inner Temple. Remarkably, he also found time to write books on legal matters, foreign affairs, and the history of the Temple, and after a long association with the Royal Society of Literature succeeded Prince Leopold as its President in 1886. Since he was knighted in 1861, the (pre-existing) mourning knights seem particularly appropriate.

Close-up of sculptural details. The knight is beautifully executed and still quite crisply defined.

The illustration of the mortuary chapel in Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal, mentioned above, facing p.33. It must have been very well considered to have been noted here. It would become the final resting place of other family members besides those already mentioned, including James's wife Katherine (d.1870), and Patrick's wife Katherine Anne Janet (d.1868).

The side, rear and interior of the chapel, showing its secluded location and dire need of restoration.

Internally, the stone roof is "carried on arches..... the sides are divided into compartments by slate slabs for coffins, ... The altar is placed at the east end. The subjects in the tympanum represent the Resurrection. The sides are recessed externally as if for windows, but are filled in with marble slabs. A vault is provided beneath the floor of the chapel, for receiving the remains of members of the family previously interred elsewhere" ("Mortuary Chapel"). In view of the quality of its design and workmanship, and its association with this highly reputed family, it is particularly sad to see the chapel in such a state. Last restored in 1924, it needs urgent attention now: "The floor has partly given way, the doors are incomplete, and the burial vault is prone to flood in winter" ("List of Items").

Sources

"Colquhoun Mausoleum." The Mausolea and Monuments Trust. Web. 13 August 2013.

FreeBMD. Web. 13 August 2013.

"List of Items for Restoration in Brookwood Cemetery (2000)." Brookwood Cemetery. Web. 13 August 2013.

"Mortuary Chapel of the Colquhoun Family, Woking Cemetery (With an Engraving)." Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal, Vol. 26. 1 February 1863: 37. Google Books Web. 13 August 2013.

Pollard, A. F., rev. Catherine Pease-Watkins. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online edition. Web. 13 August 2013.

"William Boulton." Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951. University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011. Web. 13 August 2013.


Victorian Web Victorian architecture

Last modified 13 August 2013