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Henry Casey - demolished Mausoleum

The Casey Family and the Demolished Mausoleum

When Henry James Casey’s wife Clara died on 13th May 1906 age 44 they had been married for 24 years and she had borne 8 healthy children in 14 years, the youngest Alan being only 8 when his mother died. History was repeating itself for her husband Henry who had been only 9 when his own mother died. Furthermore Clara was his second wife: his first wife Jane had died aged 41.

When Henry married Clara, he was 28 years her senior. It must have seemed unlikely that he would outlive her. A self-made man, the firstborn son of a London draper, Henry trained as a tailor and by the time he was 27 was managing a tailoring business in Islington. His first wife was a milliner, Jane Luckin and having no children she continued to work as Henry built up his business. By 1881 he was a Merchant Tailor with premises on Shoreditch High Street employing 12 people. Then, like his mother, his wife Jane died at a similar age. Henry now in his 40s, directed his energy into his business.

The third loss of a woman close to his heart moved Henry to have a mausoleum built as a lasting tribute to Clara. He probably knew that in Tunbridge Wells Cemetery there was a single large marble mausoleum built by William Hogg who had lived at Oakleigh a vast mansion on the Pembury Road next to Henry’s own mansion. The Casey family lived at Beechwood, which after Henry’s death in 1914 would be sold and become a Catholic convent and school.

So Henry bought 6 adjacent plots a 100 yards from the Hogg mausoleum and commissioned local architect Charles Hilbert Strange to liaise with the Tunbridge Wells Council’s Burial Board regarding the new mausoleum. Henry must have believed that acquiring the requisite permissions was simply a matter of correct paperwork and the building of Clara’s mausoleum began.

However the Burial Board had different ideas. They had received the plans and forwarded them to the Home Office who needed to approve. In June 1906 Charles Hilbert Strange was advised that the B.B. Committee did not approve the nature of the stone. At the next meeting Strange submitted a water colour image of the mausoleum but the Board would still not allow it.

In the minutes of 19th October 1906 the Committee ‘cancel the grant of the 6 spaces and return the fees.’ ‘A grant is to be issued for one space on the present site where Mr. Casey is to prepare a new brick grave, remove the body from the present site and inter it in the brick grave.’ ‘Mr. Casey to demolish the present mausoleum and remove the materials forthwith.’

One can only imagine the impact of all this on the grieving Henry Casey and today we can only speculate as to reasons. It is understood that when the Hogg Mausoleum was built (10 years previously and some distance from the proposed Casey mausoleum) the Home Office told the Burial Board that it hoped that that was not first of many. However the Burial Board had turned down the Casey mausoleum firstly on grounds of the stone, which implied a mausoleum was a possibility if a change of stone was made.

The Hogg mausoleum was created for an established, local, powerful family and Henry Casey was an incomer with ‘new money’ made ‘in trade’. Ironically the Casey children would be highly successful, marrying into the aristocracy and building on their inherited wealth while over the years the Hoggs lacked heirs and fell into increasing penury. In December 1952 Baronet Hogg then of Rotherfield Hall, described the family mausoleum as a ‘White Elephant too costly to maintain.’ Today the Hogg mausoleum is neglected and has become the latest restoration project for the Friends of Tunbridge Wells Cemetery.

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