Historian of Brookwood Cemetery
During my period as Chair of the Brookwood Cemetery Society, the Committee agreed to fund emergency repairs to the roof of the Drake family mausoleum. This is a brief description of the work that was undertaken in 2007.
The Grade II listed Drake mausoleum before the emergency repairs
The state of the mausoleum was becoming critical because it had lost most of its original roof, which is believed to have been a timber structure clad with slate, lead or copper. This rested on top of the brick barrel vault which was fully exposed to the elements, and provided a suitable environment for invasive saplings to take root. The solid rear wall of the mausoleum was also becoming discoloured due to the ingress of damp from the roof.
The Society commissioned Mr John Deal -
Mr Deal's report was submitted to the Society in February. It specified the emergency repairs that were required to prevent any further deterioration to this mausoleum. The cost of the work was estimated at £6,589. The Society agreed to proceed with this work. At the same time the Society approached the Surrey Historic Buildings Trust to assist with the costs, and it agreed to assist with a grant of £2,000. The Society also approached Woking Borough Council who contributed £600 towards the costs of the repairs from its Community Awards budget.
Meanwhile, in January 2007, members of the Society’s restoration team cleared the forest of saplings that were established on the roof (in fact the upper surface of the barrel vault) of the mausoleum, tidied the area and painted the wrought iron gates. At the same time the restoration team fitted a temporary tarpaulin over the roof space to try to prevent any further ingress of rainwater onto the structure. At this stage we did not know if further work could be started in the summer, or whether work would have to start the following year.
The roof of the Drake mausoleum whilst saplings were being removed (January 2007)
Placing the temporary tarpaulin over the Drake mausoleum (January 2007)
In fact successful fundraising and the availability of contractors meant that work started on 11 May. The work was divided into two phases: firstly repairs to the stonework and the roof; and secondly the erection of the new roof.
Following the construction of scaffolding around the mausoleum (on 12 May), repairs to the stonework were undertaken by Chris Anstey. Closer study of the roof revealed damage to the stonework caused by tree roots, the need to repair and restore the apex to the roof, and the need to clear out and replace the existing ballast either side of the barrel vault. See the following illustrations:
On 12 May 2007 scaffolding was erected around the mausoleum to enable safe access to the roof.
Tree root forcing the pediment of the Drake mausoleum to open
Large tree root removed from the roof of the mausoleum
Missing section of the pediment, Drake mausoleum
View of the top of the barrel vault to the Drake mausoleum, looking to the rear
Chris Anstey then restored and repaired the pediment, replaced the ballast each side of the barrel vault, and ensured the rest of the stonework at roof level was sound. See the following illustrations:
Restored and repaired apex to the pediment. The bronze fitting formed the base of a decorative cross.
Further repairs to the pediment. Note the cleaned brickwork of the barrel vault and the replacement ballast.
New ballast either side of the barrel vault, looking to the rear.
Work on Phase I was completed by the end of May 2007. Phase II of the work was completed in early June 2007. This consisted of constructing an emergency roof to protect the barrel vault from further exposure to the weather. This part of the work was undertaken by A. E. Hughes & Sons, roofing specialists. Note that this roof was placed on top of each gable end to the mausoleum which allowed rainwater to be thrown clear of the structure. The original roof sat within the gables, supported on stone ledges (one can be seen in the photograph above), with rainwater discharging into channels cut into the stonework at the top of the side walls and thence into down pipes which have long since disappeared.
Side view of the mausoleum with the emergency roof in place.
Front view of the mausoleum with the emergency roof in place. Compare this with the photograph at the top of this page.
The Brookwood Cemetery Society is very grateful for financial support from the Surrey Historic Buildings Trust (who granted us a £2,000 grant towards the cost of the restoration) and Woking Borough Council (who contributed £600 from its Community Awards budget).
The Drake mausoleum was commissioned by Sir William Richard Drake (1817-
The following description is taken from the information supporting the designation of this building as a Grade II structure (23 July 2004):
“Mausoleum to Sir William Richard Drake (d.1890). Designer unknown. Limestone and sandstone, pink granite shafts, remains of glass mosaic decoration to frieze, wrought iron gates.
“DESCRIPTION: this mausoleum comprises a rectangular cell with arcaded sides, four arched openings per side, and a triple-
“HISTORY: Drake was a lawyer and connoisseur, involved with both the Burlington Fine Arts Club and with the formation of the Murano Glass & Mosaic Company in 1869, an offshoot of the Salviati firm. The once prominent employment of mosaic to the frieze inscription is now sadly depleted. A very unusual late Victorian mausoleum in the Lombardic manner, reflecting Drake’s aesthetic interests.”
See also the page describing the emergency repairs to the Columbarium
Copyright © 2008 by John M. Clarke All Rights Reserved