Breaking the Mould. Stoke.

Sutherland Mausoleum, Trentham

The mausoleum built by the Marquis of Stafford (later the Duke of Sutherland) in 1808 is, 200 years later, the only Grade 1 listed building in Stoke-on-Trent. Sited on Stone Road opposite the main gates of Trentham Gardens it was designed by Charles Heathcote Tatham. He also designed the orangery and large gate posts for Trentham Hall.

The mausoleum is Neo-Eyptian style, a heavy looming block with one door at the front and one window at the back. An equally heavy low central tower has one window in each façade each with louvred shutter. Inside the plan is of a Greek cross with tunnel vaulting. The exterior walls slope inwards and each corner has a massive pier.

In 1907 the bodies contained within the mausoleum were removed and buried in the cemetery grounds.

Nikolaus Pevsner in Buildings of England writes,
"The isolation is a shame; for the building is so overpowering that it needs a good deal of elbow room.... The origin of a design so cyclopean, and so ruthless, is the most radical French architecture of the Boullee-Ledoux period. The architect was indeed Charles Heathcote Tatham, who had spent three years in Rome in the 1790s, at a time when the pensionnaires of the Academie de France in Rome were intoxicated with the ideas of Piranesi and Boullee."

Set in the cemetery grounds opposite Trentham Estate.


The Sutherland family were immensley wealthy and one of the largest landowners in Britain. They owned 1.5 million acres by 1820. Queen Victoria while visiting Stafford House is said to have commented "I have come from my house to your palace".

At the time when the Memorial was being planned and built, the Sutherlands were making huge changes to their lands in Scotland. In 1807 the Countess wrote that her husband "is seized as much as I am with the rage of improvements, and we both turn our attention with the greatest of energy to turnips."

Making room for the turnips and the other enterprises envisaged by the Sutherlands meant removing the tenant farmers, and in 1807 in particular 90 families were forced to leave their crops in the fields and move themselves to an area 20 miles away on the coast where they had to live in the open until they had built their own houses.

There is a first-hand account of Sutherland clearances by a crofter, Donald Macleod, in 1857.
  "The consternation and confusion were extreme. Little or no time was given for the removal of persons or property; the people striving to remove the sick and the helpless before the fire should reach them; next, struggling to save the most valuable of their effects. The cries of the women and children, the roaring of the affrighted cattle, hunted at the same time by the yelling dogs of the shepherds amid the smoke and fire, altogether presented a scene that completely baffles description -- it required to be seen to be believed.

  A dense cloud of smoke enveloped the whole country by day, and even extended far out to sea. At night an awfully grand but terrific scene presented itself -- all the houses in an extensive district in flames at once. I myself ascended a height about eleven o'clock in the evening, and counted two hundred and fifty blazing houses, many of the owners of which I personally knew, but whose present condition -- whether in or out of the flames -- I could not tell. The conflagration lasted six days, till the whole of the dwellings were reduced to ashes or smoking ruins. During one of these days a boat actually lost her way in the dense smoke as she approached the shore, but at night was enabled to reach a landing-place by the lurid light of the flames."

'Highland Clearances' by Janet Mackay

Cultural MasterplanExhibitionBlank for nowCivic Works

© Copyright 2009