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Tomb of Percy Lambert, Brompton Cemetery, Kensington and Chelsea

Description: Tomb of Percy Lambert, Brompton Cemetery

Grade: II
Date Listed: 21 December 2011
English Heritage Building ID: 1403350

OS Grid Reference: TQ2583677556
OS Grid Coordinates: 525836, 177556
Latitude/Longitude: 51.4830, -0.1892

Locality: Kensington and Chelsea
County: Greater London
Country: England
Postcode: SW10 9UQ

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Listing Text


Monument to Percy Lambert, c.1914

Reason for Listing

* Historic interest: commemorates Percey Lambert who broke speed records in the earliest years of motor racing at Brooklands, the world's first racing circuit, and poignantly recalls the ultimate dangers of the sport
* Design interest: the monument with its broken car wheel clearly refers to Lambert's occupation as well as to the manner of his deat
* Group value: with other listed tombs in the Grade I-registered Brompton Cemetery.


Percy Lambert (1881-1913), son of Charles and Sarah, worked in the motor trade with his brother Harold Charles Lambert. He first raced at Brooklands in Surrey in 1910 and was a popular driver, winning several races. Brooklands was the world's first purpose-built motor racing circuit, and staged the first official race in 1907. Lambert was the first person to set the record for driving one hundred miles in an hour on 15 February 1913 at Brooklands. A few months later, having promised his fiancée it would be his last attempt, he was killed trying to beat the record after a rear tyre disintegrated; the wheel with the broken spokes on his memorial aptly symbolises the tragedy.

Brompton Cemetery was one of the 'magnificent seven' privately-run burial grounds established in the 1830s and 1840s to relieve pressure on London's overcrowded churchyards. It was laid out in 1839-1844 to designs by the architect Benjamin B Baud, who devised a classical landscape of axial drives and vistas with rond-points at the intersections marked by mausolea or ornamental planting, the latter devised by Isaac Finnemore with advice from J C Loudon. The main Ceremonial Way culminates in a dramatic architectural ensemble recalling Bernini's piazza in front of St Peter's in Rome, with flanking colonnades curving outwards to form a Great Circle, closed at its southern end in a domed Anglican chapel (the planned Catholic and Nonconformist chapels were omitted for financial reasons). The cemetery, never a commercial success, was compulsorily purchased by the General Board of Health in the early 1850s, and has remained in state ownership ever since.


MATERIALS: Marble with leaded lettering

A broken column with a bay leaf garland stands atop a three-stage pedestal, whose cubic middle stage is carved with a motor car wheel with broken spokes and air valve. Dedications to Lambert's immediate family are applied to the vertical sides of the cube and plinths. The epitaphs on the plinths to Lambert read, from top to bottom: 'A modest friend, a fine gentleman / and a thorough sportsman; The first man to cover one hundred miles in one hour / killed by accident at Brooklands motor racing track / whilst attempting further records October 31st 1913.'

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.