Wildlife at the Mausoleum

The title of Earl of Kilmorey was created in 1822 for Francis Needham, former MP for Newry. He was succeeded by his son, Francis Jack Needham (1787-1880), whose final resting place is the Kilmorey Mausoleum, on the northern edge of the St Margarets area of Twickenham, near the boundary with Isleworth.

The Environment Trust is holding an Open Day here today to introduce us, the public, to the local wildlife, and to offer a guided tour of the Grade II listed structure. You can learn about the hedgehog population of Barnes, and how to build a bee nursery, then sit under the trees with a slice of banana bread and tea from an enamelled tin mug.

Martyn Day (see Weekender: Martyn Day, musician, 67 in The Guardian, 24/2/2012) and a colleague from the St Margarets community give a highly entertaining presentation that takes us inside the Mausoleum itself.

Needham married his first wife, Jane Gun-Cuninghame, in 1814. They had four children, and separated in 1835. Jane died in 1867.

Lord Kilmorey scandalised Victorian society by “eloping” to France with his ward, Priscilla Anne Hoste (1823-54), when he was in his late fifties and she was twenty. Her father had died when she was small, when Kilmorey was made guardian of Sir William Hoste’s six children. Priscilla’s mother, Lady Harriet Walpole, “allegedly was careless of her relations with Lord Kilmorey”.

The couple returned to England a year later, and their son Charles was born in Cross Deep House (demolished 1906, situated opposite Radnor House, which Kilmorey may also have owned or occupied), Twickenham, on the 19th July, 1844.

In 1846, Needham moved downstream from Cross Deep to Orleans House. That house in turn he sold in 1850 to Marie Amelie, widow of Louis Philippe (see post of 30/6/19). Moving still farther downstream, he bought St Margaret’s House, formerly the country seat of the Marquess of Ailsa. The House gave its name to the area; in 1854, the St Margaret’s Estate was laid out for building family houses, becoming one of the first garden suburbs, and modern St Margarets dates from the arrival of the railway. The Ailsa Tavern is over the road from the Mausoleum.

Needham had demolished and rebuilt St Margaret’s House by 1852. At about the same time he bought and lived in Gordon House (then known as Railshead). Having for a period been part of the Brunel University site, it is now a gated luxury development once more.

Priscilla died at their London home in 1854, of “a disease of the heart”. The Kilmorey Mausoleum, a handsome structure in the Egyptian style, was commissioned by Kilmorey in the 1850s, and originally erected in Brompton Cemetery to receive Priscilla’s coffin, with the inscription “Priscilla, the beloved of Francis Jack, Earl of Kilmorey”.

Following her death, Needham treated Charles as his favourite, taking him everywhere with him. He sold St Margaret’s House and leased out Gordon House, moving to Woburn Park, Chertsey, and taking the mausoleum with him.

In 1867, Needham married Martha Foster (she survived him, living until 1908). The newly married couple and the mausoleum returned to Gordon House. As Kilmorey Road now crossed his estate, the Earl, there is good evidence to suggest, had a tunnel constructed beneath it to facilitate access to the mausoleum from his house. The 2nd Earl of Kilmorey died at his home in 1880 and, as planned, his remains joined those of Priscilla in the Kilmorey Mausoleum.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s