The Heart of Victorian England
Munson, James, Contemporary Review
Every May the public has a rare opportunity to see one of England's most unusual royal buildings. The Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore, the final resting place for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, stands apart. Its copper roof, now turned a gentle green, is just visible among the trees in Windsor Great Park. The visitor reaches it by walking down the Long Walk. The building seems to have been transplanted from Ravenna and set down in the midst of a quintessentially English landscape. Few buildings in England are more poignant in their memories and few embody the character of their creator more than the Royal Mausoleum.
Queen Victoria's decision to build a special resting place for herself and Prince Albert had been taken before his early death in December, 1861. Albert's father had been buried in a mausoleum at Coburg after his death in 1844 and her own mother, the Duchess of Kent (who was also Albert's aunt) decided on a classical mausoleum for herself. The site she chose was at Frogmore, in the grounds near Frogmore House which had become her residence. Indeed, as she lay dying in 1861 the builders could be seen from her windows on their way to the unfinished structure.
It was therefore not surprising that Victoria should herself choose Frogmore after Albert's death, or that she should choose to have a mausoleum. The alternative would have been burial in the vaults of St George's Chapel, Windsor. This proposal filled the Queen with horror. She had always disliked Windsor, even before the Prince's death. She remembered the appalling scene enacted there in the months before she came to the throne, when her |Uncle-King', William IV, attacked her mother at a state dinner to celebrate his birthday. To her own dying day she shuddered when she saw the room to which she had fled in tears. She especially disliked the rows of coffins which filled the crypt underneath the glories of St George's Chapel, just above. There the remains of the martyred King Charles I lie near those of the Tudor despot, Henry VIII. …
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Publication information: Article title: The Heart of Victorian England. Contributors: Munson, James - Author. Magazine title: Contemporary Review. Volume: 260. Issue: 1516 Publication date: May 1992. Page number: 259+. © 1999 Contemporary Review Company Ltd. COPYRIGHT 1992 Gale Group.
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