Mausoleum, 1922, architect unknown.
Reason for Listing
The Melesi Mausoleum in St Pancras and Islington Cemetery, built in 1922, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: for the early depiction on a funerary monument of a fatal motor vehicle accident, which resulted in the death of Letizia Melezi in 1914;
* Architectural and artistic interest: it is a striking and highly decorative design, of particular interest for the poignant and distinctive sculptural panels;
* Group value: with the Grade II* Registered cemetery in which it is located.
The Melesi mausoleum was erected in 1922 by Gaetano Melesi in memory of his wife, Letizia, who was killed by a taxi in a road accident in London on 11 January 1914, aged 35. The depiction of the road accident on the mausoleum is very unusual and is likely to be among the earliest examples on a funerary monument, despite the first recorded death in Britain of a pedestrian by a petrol-driven motor vehicle occurring in Crystal Palace as early as 1896. Several other memorials relating to motor accidents have been listed including that to Percy Lambert, a racing driver killed at Brooklands racetrack in 1913, whose memorial in Brompton Cemetery bears a carving of a wheel with broken spokes (Listed Grade II, National Heritage List for England entry 1403350), and that in Reading Cemetery to world-record holder Bernard Hieatt (Listed Grade II, NHLE entry 1096058) . He is depicted in motor racing uniform having been killed in 1930, also at Brooklands, within a few laps of victory in a motorcycle and sidecar race.
MATERIALS: Portland stone and marble with a pitched slate roof.
DESCRIPTION: the mausoleum stands in the Roman Catholic section of St Pancras and Islington Cemetery on the north side of Roman Road. It is designed in the neo-classical style with Gothic elements. The pointed entrance arch, reached via two steps, has marble engaged columns with foliated capitals and elaborate wrought-iron gates; identical columns frame the sides. To either side of the entrance are marble relief panels: that to the left depicting a taxi with a driver with arms outstretched, the prostrate figure of Letizia Melesi and an angel pointing heavenwards; that to the right depicting Gaetano Melesi kneeling before the memorial while his wife ascends to heaven in the arms of the Holy Spirit accompanied by three winged cherubs.
Below the left-hand panel the plinth is inscribed with lead lettering reading: IN AFFECTIONATE REMEMBRANCE/ OF/ LETIZIA/ DEARLY BELOVED WIFE OF GAETANO MELESI/ DIED JANUARY 11th 1914/ AGED 35 YEARS/ HER VIRTUES ARE RECORDED IN THE HEART/ OF THOSE TO WHOM SHE WAS KNOWN.
The tympanum is faced in gold mosaic. Above the arch is a relief sculpture of a winged angel with a mosaic halo, holding a swag with the Melesi name. The gable has a keystone developed as a plinth bearing a Celtic cross, and antefixae to the angles. The interior has a relief of the Madonna and Child over the altar.
ADDITIONAL FEATURES: wrought-iron chain surround supported on bollards with urn-shaped terminals; some of these are missing.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.