Saturday, December 22, 2007

A small ePIC. Part 3A of 4.

A small ePIC by Sans Pantaloons. My response to a meme set by Julia.

[Sans Context Insertion/Update 26th Sept 2011]

Although William, the 11th Duke, only gets about four lines in A small ePIC. Part 2 of 3, he played a critical part in the destiny of his Father, Alexander the 10th Duke.
On the 23rd of February 1843, William, then the Marquess of Douglas and Clydesdale, married Princess Marie Amelie of Baden, the Grand-Daughter of Napoleon Bonaparte.

If one has a blood-line connection to Royalty , and an absolute belief in ones' puissant nobility, then having ones' son marry the grand-daughter of Napoleon, can do nothing but cement, underline, and pretty much validate and verify that belief.

Napoleon died in 1821, and is interred in a magnificent sarcophagus under a wonderful dome at Les Invalides in Paris. This marriage of Alexander's son William to Napoleon's Grand-Daughter may have been the catalyst to the building of Alexander's own Mausoleum.

I think this explanation goes a long way in providing an understandable context for Alexander's mausoleum.

In line with his enlargement of Hamilton Palace, Alexander, 10th Duke of Hamilton (1767-1852), entertained various schemes to replace the existing family burial vault which stood close to the east quarter of the Palace in the aisle of the old and dilapidated Collegiate Church.

[SANS NOTE]
The Old Collegiate Church in Hamilton was finished in 1462. King James II had made Sir James Hamilton a Lord and granted him the barony of Cadzow. The new Lord Hamilton wanted to create a town worthy of his station and decided to have the new church built close to his residence. It was made a collegiate charge in a Papal Bull in 1450. It was also to be used as the Hamilton family crypt.
The collegiate church took the form of a small cathedral. It had two cross aisles and transepts, a choir and a steeple.The church survived the Reformation in 1672 and officially became the Old Parish Church (the name now used for the current Parish Church in Hamilton). However, the church was built close to the Hamilton residence and, in 1732, the 5th Duke of Hamilton decided he needed the ground the church was built on in order to enlarge and improve the Palace and its grounds. He therefore built a new church but the family crypt proved a problem and he could not fully demolish the old one. All that remained was one transept, seen in the sketch below, in which the Hamilton family were buried.There was no real answer to this problem, until a new family crypt was built.


This sketch dated 1789.

Between 1838 and 1841 these various schemes involved David Hamilton (1768-1843), the architect with whom the duke had collaborated on the enlargement of the palace, and, in 1846, Henry Edmund Goodridge of Bath, designer of Beckford's Tower at Fonthill Abbey, Wiltshire for the duke's father-in-law, William Beckford.

Both architects produced designs for a chapel and mausoleum on the collegiate church site, close to the east flank of the palace. Neither came to anything and in 1848, the commission eventually fell to the distinguished Edinburgh architect, David Bryce (1803-76), in relation to a fresh site north of the palace.

There remains uncertainty and confusion over the dates both of the commencement of the work on the Mausoleum and of its completion. It's probably safe to say work started early in 1850. The Mausoleum is known to have been unfinished on the 10th Duke's death in 1852, but the date of completion is variously given as 1854 or 1857.
[SANS UPDATE] 17th January 2009.
David Hamilton's family descendents have a website which states that he started work on the crypt in 1840. He died in 1843 when only the crypt was finished. This ties in with other collected information stating that the remains of the Collegiate Church were completely removed around 1842. This could only have been done when there was a secure resting place for the Hamilton family remains to be removed to. The monument to William 3rd Duke of Hamilton, was moved from the Collegiate Church to St. Bride Parish Church, Bothwell around the same time. Obviously the death of David Hamilton threw the building process into chaos and this is where all the date confusion stems from. David Bryce was chosen to complete the project based on David Hamilton's designs. I'm sure that much if not all of the decoration was designed in as the project progressed. There is a sketch of the Mausoleum by David Bryce dated 1850 which does not have any of Handyside Richie's ornamental work shown, and has five entrance doors to the crypt, so I think we can safely assume that had not been decided up to that date.
[SANS NOTE]
The Mausoleum was built at a cost of about £33,000 (c.£1.2m $2.5m US today) as a chapel and family tomb. The first funeral service held there, Alexander's own, was marred by the long echo, now one of the Mausoleum's acclaimed features. There is some video below of Tommy Smith, a local saxophone artist who recorded an album in the Mausoleum.

We approach the Mausoleum from the west, coming from Hamilton town, where we see the doors to the Chapel. These doors in the photograph below are simple wooden doors, but not the original doors.

The original doors are magnificent bronze beasts modelled on the design of the doors of the Florence Baptistry by Lorenzo Ghiberti. They were taken down and moved inside because their extreme weight was aiding the West face of the Mausoleum subside. They are now inside, placed so that their weight is more evenly distributed.
I have photoshopped a graphic to imagine what the original doors might look like.

I wondered why the Chapel doors were situated on the west side, opposite the crypt entrance. I can only assume it is simply because the west side faces the town, and would allow townspeople the use of the Chapel without having to walk around the Mausoleum. The fact that the echo in the Chapel ruined any chance of it being used for worship was unfortunate.

Architect David Hamilton (1768-1843) may have begun design work on the Mausoleum crypt in 1840, but did not live to see it completed. Architect David Bryce (1803-1876) and famous Scottish Sculptor Alexander Handyside Richie (1804-1870) completed the work. When Duke Alexander died in 1852, his body was laid in the Mausoleum during the completion of the work.

This Roman style structure is an extraordinary work of architectural sculpture and not just a building.
Two massive lions sit either side above the crypt. These were carved by Alexander Handyside Ritchie in 1852. Each is carved out of a single block of sandstone and weighs so much that it took 24 very large Clydesdale horses to haul them into position. The guardian lion on the left is wide awake representing youth and vigour, while the one on the right is sleeping representing senescence and torpor.
I resisted temptation to remove the wine bottle as it adds a little scale to the picture. If you look at the horizon on the left side of the picture above, you can see Chatelherault Hunting Lodge in the distance. The Sleeping Lion is shown below.

I originally thought the single block of sandstone from which the lions are carved was sitting on a larger sandstone pedestal, but looking again I now think the whole block is the one piece. I have outlined a graphic below.

The human statue is placed simply as a reference to scale, as I have omitted to place myself in any of these photographs. In examination of these wonderful carved lions, I noticed something that may be of interest. The picture of the rear of the awake lion is shown below with a protuberance. Unfortunately very weathered and with graffiti, it may be what I thought it was, but to confirmI had a look at the sleeping lion, and yes, I confirm that Alexander Handyside Ritchie had carved the Lions tackle.

The rear of the Awake Lion.

The rear of the Sleeping Lion.

This is no easy task, considering the tail greatly obstructs access. Had they not been carved, no-one would have missed them, assuming that they were safely tucked underneath. It could simply be the work of a truly great professional artist, determined to reflect reality, or AHR could have been instructed to include them, or possibly, AHR could be making a personal comment. What do you think?

This is a view from the top of the north stair. I have resisted the temptation to photoshop remove the graffiti from these photographs. It isn't excessive and I assume the local council clean it off routinely. My take on the graffiti is below.

How does one mark ones' life?
How do you place a bookmark in history, proudly displaying this is me, this is where I was, what I did; Look, gasp in awe, be inspired, admire.
Some aspiring accountant, shaking her or his can with a clackity clack clack, spraying their tag upon something they do not see, cannot see; not realizing the gods are looking down on them, laughing, bellowing at their massively compressed perspective.
They spray in the shadow of immortality, dwarfed by their own incomprehension.


THE CRYPT
The Duke, being an Egyptology afectionado incorporated many Egyption ideas and themes into the design of his Mausoleum. The crypt has three doorways, two are false entrances, the real entrance being through the middle arch facing east as was the custom apparently.
Above each arch are beautifully carved heads, also by Handyside Ritchie, and they represent Life, Death and Immortality (Eternity). While all three were carved of the same stone, "Life" and "Death" have worn away quite markedly, while "Immortality" still appears fresh albeit damaged.
I have placed the original newspaper photograph inlaid with 2007 photographs below for comparison.


This description of the carvings above the crypt gates taken, I believe, from the local newspaper published at the time.
"Life" wears a garland of fruit and flowers and the face is lined with the cares and worries of life. The clock hands point to noon, the mid point of existence. "Death" is crowned with poppy heads, representing everlasting sleep, and the finger is over the lips for silence. The eyes are closed in the 'sleep that knows no waking'. "Immortality" presents as a great a contrast to the other two. The face is beautiful and the head is crowned with lilies and circles with a serpent with its tail in its mouth. The whole representing eternity. Above the centre of the forehead is a butterfly, the Greek symbol for immortality.

A series of stone steps lead up into the crypt. Nowadays the crypt is lit by electric light. In the Dukes time, it was lit by 25 candles all round the walls and the central pillar. The original candle brackets are still in situ. A central pillar holds up the vaulted arches and the visitor is immediately struck by how new and fresh the stonework appears. Each chisel mark looks as if it had just been struck. This is accounted for by the fact that it is rarely exposed to light, atmosphere or moisture
The crypt is square with four large spaces at each corner, presumably for the more prestigious family members, and the three sides facing the door providing 28 single niches to take the bodies of the other family members. Alexander had not even planned to be with them, he had the whole of the Chapel upstairs to himself.

The view of the crypt from the east side.

Early in 1852 [[See [SANS UPDATE] 17th January 2009.] above] Alexander had his relatives brought from the transept of the 15th century collegiate church and had them re-interred in the new crypt. Alexander must have had some expectation of his own demise as he died on 18th August of the same year.
A far view from the east side.

The view from the south side stair.
Alexander, having that great interest in Egyptology, had left instruction that his body be embalmed and laid to rest in an Egyptian Sarcophagus, mounted upon a black marble plinth within the Chapel. This possibly inspired by the tomb of Napoleon. The Sarcophagus pictured below.
Alexander and his ancestors new resting place was only to last until 1921 when, because of fears the Mausoleum might collapse because of mine workings, all Hamilton bodies (Except the 11th and 12th Dukes who were transferred to the Isle of Arran) were interred in the Bent Cemetery in Hamilton.

This video, made by some of our local budding actors, uses the Mausoleum as the setting. As well as being a little scary, it shows what the inside of the crypt looks like and the Mausoleum chapel upstairs. The original bronze doors are also featured.
Tommy Smith used the acclaimed echo of the Chapel to record one of his albums. The video below has some description.

This concludes Part3A of this meme.

6 Comments:

Blogger identity crisis said...

Merry Christmas Sans...who knew you were so prolific?

8:24 PM  
Blogger Sans Pantaloons said...

Identity Crisis, Have a Great 2008.
I used to be quite a frolicker when younger...

1:45 PM  
Blogger julia said...

A few weeks late to part 3A, but luckily it was still there waiting for me. Really loved all the photos of the crypt, especially the lions and the faces. And for the old newspaper photos to compare them. I really, really loved the footage of the saxophone piece in the crypt - that ceiling is gorgeous. And the other little film was good for a peek inside. Just made me wish I could get hold of that location for myself for a day or two!

7:57 PM  
Blogger Sans Pantaloons said...

Julia, I can see the Mausoleum from my office window as I sit and type this now. I wonder if the Duke really knew the value of the legacy he left, or was he just egotistic. I'm sure he presumed the Palace would stand for hundreds of years, and that would serve as his legacy. I haven't found any reference to a book on the Mausoleum yet, but I'm sure there must be some local writings. I shall carry on with my delving...

4:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Sans, just wondered if you're ever going to do part 3B of 4 of 'A small ePIC'?

6:01 AM  
Blogger Sans Pantaloons said...

Anon, yes part3B of 4 is in progress. It will cover Chatelherault Hunting Lodge, the Duke's Bridge, Cadzow Castle, and the Duke's Monument. It has been 4 years of picture gathering and research.

I'm currently writing it up. I hope to finish and post it, although it will be less verbose and more visual than the previous posts. It has a low priority, so it keeps getting shoved aside.

6:22 AM  

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