Enter the Devonport Mausoleum in Greenwich
A modest brick building in Greenwich is the final resting place of Sir Thomas Hardy and Admiral Lord Hood, as well as many ordinary sailors. The Devonport Mausoleum was built around 1750 in a new cemetery on the grounds of the old Devonport Nurses Home, and the cemetery was used until 1857 as the cemetery for the Royal Hospital for Seamen.
It is believed that some 24,000 people, mostly men but a few women, were buried in the cemetery, but many were subsequently moved in 1875 and 1929 when the National Maritime Museum and later Devonport House were both built on the site. .
What remains however is the mausoleum, which sits atop an underground crypt.
The very first burial in the crypt was that of hospital retiree John Meriton, but later space was mostly reserved for senior officers.
Two of the most famous men lying there are Sir Thomas Hardy, Nelson’s flag captain during the victory at Trafalgar and Admiral Lord Hood, one of the admirals of the American Revolutionary War. Both were also governors of the hospital.
The terrain has changed a lot since the construction of the mausoleum, and it was restored in 1999 when the University of Greenwich took over the buildings next door.
It is a simple brick building with a number of stone monuments on the outside, and despite the metal doors there is only one monument inside the mausoleum, from the 1890s to Edward Riddle and his son John, both former directors of the hospital school. There are a few ledger stones on the floor and a list of those who died in the American Revolutionary War, but otherwise it’s a simple brick building. For the dead, the main action is in the crypt below.
What you won’t see is the entrance to the crypt, as it is actually a staircase at the back of the mausoleum, and not only at the bottom there is a metal balustrade at the- above the steps. The dead rest in peace.
The grounds of the mausoleum are usually locked, but open for the London Open House weekend, so chances of seeing the interior of this modest but important building are quite rare.