SMOLLETT MAUSOLEUM, St Andrew's Parish Churchyard, Alexandria, West Dunbartonshire
ACCESS : The churchyard is currently secured, but you can approach this building from the rear on Church Street.
Listed B along with the church and churchyard. The church was seriously damaged by fire and subsequently demolished in the autumn of 2022.See index.asp?pageid=717443
Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland : 6536
A vacated church that was successfully put to new usage (well for a while) was St Andrew's Parish Church in Alexandria in the Vale of Leven, about half way between Dumbarton and Loch Lomond. The church was built in 1840. It has been described as being of Gothic style, but it was much too plain for that. Plainness does not necessarily mean boring. It was in fact a fine building.
But it is the mausoleum that is focussed on here.
The demolition of the church itself has exposed the churchyard, which has its own challenges, but has also shown up the shocking state of this building.
This small intirguing building is located along the rear wall of the churchyard. Best seen from this side, it is also clearly visible from the narrow road that serves one of the carpark for the Mitchell Way parking. This is the Smollett Mausoleum. The Smolletts were a notable family in this area and this mausoleum is significant for its family connections.
It is described as of a style considered Romanesque Revival. It has a shallow T-layout and straddles the rear wall of the churchyard. It is built of honey-coloured sandstone ashlar; ashlar dressings; zoomorphic, figuartive sculptures. It has a simple gabled entrance bay, Romanesque door; chevron moulding; colonnettes; hoodmould, zoomorphic labelstops; plaque in gablehead; cross finial; grotesque figurative corbel. Narrow bays, recessed niches. Arcaded blind window; hoodmould, grotesque labelstops; very weathered on left return. Grey slate roof, ashlar ridging. That zoomorphic refernces notes those strange monkey faces that peer from the parapets. All that wordy description conjures up something very interesting, architecturally as well as through the family connection.
Yet it has for a long time been looking as though it is about to collapse. Trees sprout forth from its parapets, pushing apart those fine carvings. The council have been asked to attend to them. No action. While the grass may be cut, there appears to be a reticence to reach up, for that is all it takes, to saw off the offending growth. More than their job's worth? It has changed ownership over the years, but responsibility is queried.
An eclectic combination of detaling. At first sight it appears like a detail from an Inca ruin in a jungle. There are monkeys on the side. The choice of imagery for a mausoleum is intriguing. This is not what one would expect of a family's last resting place. Perhaps they are indicating some exotic travel or colonial experience.
It is not possible to enter the building, but it is recorded that marble tablets are on one of the inner walls. They have the following inscriptions :
John Rouet Smollett, Rear-admiral of the Red, born 9th May, 1767; died 16th May, 1842, in the 75th year of his age.
Elizabeth, daughter of the Hon. Patrick Boyle, wife of Admiral J.R.Smollett, born 23rd October, 1767; died 6th August, 1858, in her 91st year.
Alexander Smollett of Bonhill, born 29th Nov., 1801; died on 25th February, 1881, aged 79 years.
This is the view that most people are familiar with. But this is the back on the Church Street back access to the Mitchell Way parking.
The front is even more extraordinary.
Just look at that damage before our eyes. Slow yet certain. Tree growth. Winter ice.
Well done to whoever seeded the grounds after the church had been demolished. A traditional mix of red poppies, cornflowers and others appropriate to a graveyard. This is a view looking from the main gates towards the Smollett Mausoleum in late June 2023. Those trees that you see framing the building are not in front of it. They are IN it.
The flowers may look fantastic, but look closer. The trees growing from the mausoleum have not been attended to and the masonry continues to be split apart.
GEOGRAPH.ORG : https://www.geograph.org.uk/snippet/8097