Queen Victoria’s mausoleum at Frogmore, Windsor, is to be restored so that it might be open to the public once more.
The Royal Mausoleum houses the tomb and remains of Queen Victoria – now the second-longest serving British Monarch in history – and her husband, Prince Albert.
It closed in 2007 after the Grade I-listed building was declared structurally unsound due to flooding; the mausoleum sits in marshy land at Frogmore, and moisture has seeped into the fabric of the building, damaging it.
Buckingham Palace is now undertaking significant works to preserve and restore The Queen’s great-great-grandmother’s resting place, as it forms part of the Windsor Castle estate and is under her ownership.
A dry moat is being put around the building, and better drainage to be installed to allow for a dryer environment.
A Public Accounts Commission hearing in 2009, chaired by MP Sir Edward Leigh, noted funding should be made available for such a historically-important job.
The mausoleum is shaped in the form of a Greek cross with an Italian Romanesque design; the interior mimics Prince Albert’s favourite painter, Raphael.
Queen Victoria had the grand resting place created by Ludwig Gruner of Dresden, an art advisor to the Royal Household, following the death of Prince Albert in 1861. It was also to be her tomb in 1901. Two marble effigies of the royal couple, designed by Italian sculptor Baron Carlo Marochetti, were placed above their tomb.
Above the Mausoleum door are inscribed the Queen’s chosen words: “Farewell best beloved, here at last I shall rest with thee, with thee in Christ I shall rise again.”
Princess Alice, the couple’s daughter, and their granddaughter, Princess May were also laid to rest there; a memorial to Victoria’s father, Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent – who died in 1820 when his daughter was just eight months old – is also to be seen inside.
It is located in the gardens of Frogmore House, which was built for George III’s wife, Queen Charlotte; this is also where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had their engagement photos taken. While no longer a royal residence, the Royal Family do occasionally use the house for official receptions and dinners.
Leigh, the Conservative MP for Gainsborough, wrote to Buckingham Palace last month noting that Frogmore Mausoleum is ‘the resting place of one of Britain’s greatest and longest-reigning monarchs’ and a ‘building of great historical significance’.
The Mausoleum at Frogmore, where Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are buried. It is currently undergoing renovation work. pic.twitter.com/KbqOGHtFSc
— Mélanie Dangereuse de Clegane (@MmeGuillotine) May 28, 2019
The mausoleum is currently being dried out to enable other works to take place, and prevent further damage. Sir Michael Stevens, the Keeper of the Privy Purse and in control of royal finances, noted in his reply to Leigh’s letter that, since the 2009 hearing, ‘we have embarked on an extensive programme of environmental monitoring’.
“The results of this monitoring has led to certain temporary works being undertaken which have facilitated the drying out of the mausoleum… This means we are now in a position to begin a major phase of repair later this year.”
The MP returned comment: “I am delighted that Buckingham Palace are ensuring the necessary work is being done to restore this beautiful mausoleum to a state befitting the Queen-Empress who gave her name to the era of Britain’s greatest age of social, cultural, and economic advancement.”
“When we think of Napoleon in Les Invalides and Lenin in his tomb in Red Square, it is humbling and somehow typically British to think that one of our country’s greatest monarchs is buried in an almost forgotten resting place.”
“I hope one day it will be better known,” Sir Edward commented, “and I am glad to see further substantial restoration will commence shortly.”
However, it is thought this project will take five years, due to the fragile nature of the building and its situation, so it may not be open for a while yet…