Sir James Tillie, who built Pentillie Castle in 1698, left instructions in his will that he should not be buried, but demanded that he should be dressed in his best clothes, bound to a stout chair and placed with his books, wine and pipe in his favourite folly to await resurrection. As far as the stories go, the faithful servants carried out these instructions,placing Sir James’ body in his folly on Mt Ararat on the Pentillie Estate. The servants continued to bring the deceased wine and food for two years until they could bear it no longer, had his remains interred and a marble statue built in his place. None of the stories relate exactly what happened to Sir James’ body, but it had always been assumed that his remains were moved to one of the local parish churches.
With Sir James’ statue residing comfortably in the building on Mt Ararat, it became known as the Mausoleum. It is likely to be one of the earliest known garden Mausolea in the country, and almost certainly boasts some of the finest views!
However as with all aging buildings, the mausoleum was crumbling and in a state of disrepair – urgent action was needed to save this historic building! With grants from Natural England and the Country Houses Foundation, restorative work begun on the mausoleum in winter 2012.
During restoration, the brick built roof of a vaulted structure was discovered under the floor. After further digging, the entrance to Sir James Tillie’s vault was discovered, also revealing the infamous man’s final resting place, along with his leather chair.
The mausoleum was finally restored in spring 2013, along with Sir James Tillie’s monument (complete with remodelled nose, hands and feet!). We think Jimmy would be proud!
Whilst the public do not have direct access to the mausoleum, it is open on specific garden open days, and guided garden tours. All B&B guests have access to the mausoleum and gardens during their stay. For more information on garden events, see the Events page.
For the full story on the discovery of Sir James Tillie’s vault visit the news section of the website.