Now solitary testament to the colossal scale and
grandeur of the buildings which once stood in Hamilton Low Parks
and a monument to the self-belief of Alexander,
10th Duke of Hamilton (1767-1852), Hamilton Palace Mausoleum
is a remarkable, Roman-style domed structure of panelled masonry.
Standing to an overall height of about 36.5m, it occupies a site
some 200m north of the site of Hamilton Palace. Begun after 1848,
the building was evidently not fully completed until about 1857,
five years after the death of the 10th Duke. The distinguished Edinburgh
architect, David Bryce (1803-76), was the principal designer and
the associated sculptures were by Alexander Handyside Ritchie (1804-70).
This view of the west face of the mausoleum shows
the four stages of rusticated and panelled ashlar masonry, handsomely
and intricately wrought from huge blocks of orange-coloured sandstone.
From a broad, stepped terrace the mausoleum chapel is entered through
a pair of wooden doors. The original doors, now stored inside, are
of cast bronze, made by James Milne of Edinburgh and evidently modelled
on the design of the Ghiberti doors at the Baptistry of Florence.
An inscribed panel in the face of the rusticated cylinder above
the entrance records (in Latin) that Alexander, 10th Duke of Hamilton,
had this monument erected for himself and his family.
Early in 1852, the bodies of some 16 members of
the Hamilton family were brought to the mausoleum from the aisle
of the medieval collegiate church which stood close to the eastern
face of the palace but was then removed. Later in the same year,
the 10th Duke himself died and was, in accordance with his long-planned
intentions, embalmed, placed in an Egyptian sarcophagus and temporarily
laid in the mausoleum chapel. In 1921, when subsidence threatened
the stability of the mausoleum, most of the bodies, with the exception
of the 11th and 12th Dukes (who were re-buried on Arran), were transferred
to a burial plot in Bent Cemetery.