A monument to the immortal self-belief of Alexander,
10th Duke of Hamilton (1767-1852), Hamilton Palace Mausoleum
is a remarkable, Roman-style domed structure which stands to an
overall height of about 36.5m. Begun after 1848 to the designs of
the architect David Bryce (1803-76), the building was evidently
not fully completed until about 1857. When, in 1852, the 10th Duke
died he was, in accordance with his long-planned intentions, embalmed,
placed in an Egyptian sarcophagus and temporarily laid in the unfinished
The sumptuous quality of the exterior continues
inside the chapel where the marble mosaic floor, with its magnificent
centrepiece seen here, together with the black marble pedestal for
a sarcophagus, reflects the 10th Duke’s passion for a material which
he used extensively throughout the nearby palace. The eight-sided
chapel with its four alcoves, two of which can be made out in this
view, rises to a coffered (sunk-panelled) dome through a tribune
or gallery stage which contains eight empty niches. The original
outer doors, now stored inside the mausoleum, 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.
The chapel possesses remarkable acoustic qualities.
Complex and noisy reverberations, including an echo of up to 15
seconds' duration, possibly as long as any building in Scotland,
has made it impossible for the chapel to fulfil its intended use
as a place of worship.