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Mausoleum of Sir David Yule, St Albans

Description: Mausoleum of Sir David Yule

Grade: II
Date Listed: 3 October 2013
Building ID: 1415434

OS Grid Reference: TL1443701703
OS Grid Coordinates: 514437, 201703
Latitude/Longitude: 51.7024, -0.3454

Locality: St Albans
Local Authority: St Albans City Council
County: Hertfordshire
Postcode: AL2 3UE

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Listing Text


Mausoleum of Sir David Yule, built in the late 1920s/ early 1930s, by an unknown designer.

Reason for Listing

The mausoleum of Sir David Yule, built in the late 1920s or early 1930s, by an unknown designer, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Historic interest: it is associated with David Yule, one of the most important businessmen in India during the zenith of the British Empire. The mausoleum, with its frieze depicting scenes of industrial Calcutta and Bengal, is a very personal creation that evokes his strong connection and feeling for India, a country that he made his home as well as the scene of his immense business success;

* Architectural interest: in a period in which most monuments were produced by commercial masons whose output was fairly routine and derivative, the highly individual character of this mausoleum is conspicuous in its originality, aesthetic quality and high quality execution. The unoccupied desk and chair, partially covered with a drapery, is a peculiarly fitting memorial to a man whose work was an all-consuming activity;

* Design interest: mausolea almost always stress security, privacy and protection by being closed, lockable structures, whereas this example has four open sides. It is possible that this unusual form was inspired by mausolea that Yule may have heard about or seen first-hand in India, possibly in the well-known English cemetery at Surat and the Park Street Cemetery near his home in Calcutta;

* Setting: it is located in the setting for which it was designed, and although neither the house nor garden is designated, they nevertheless form an important historic context for the mausoleum.


David Yule (1858-1928) was born in Edinburgh, the nephew of Andrew and George Yule who had established a highly profitable mercantile enterprise in India. As a young man, David went out to manage the family’s Bengal Cotton Mills in Calcutta where he subsequently spent his life working with extraordinary rigour and success, becoming one of the richest and most powerful men on the subcontinent. By 1902 the family business included four jute mills, fifteen tea companies, four coal companies, various mills, a small railway company and an inland navigation company. David was befriended by George V during his visit to Calcutta in 1911 and was knighted for having provided food and employment for 200,000 people. He later received a baronetcy and took the title of Sir David Yule of Hooghly River in the Province of Bengal.

On a visit to England in 1900 David married his cousin Annie Henrietta, the daughter of Andrew Yule. They had one child, Gladys, who lived in England with her mother after Henrietta had contracted malaria in India. David bought them the Hanstead estate in Bricket Wood where they settled for the rest of their lives, whilst David still lived mostly in Calcutta. In 1925 the Yules either rebuilt or extensively altered Hanstead House where David died three years later. He left explicit instructions with Henrietta that he should be buried in his own grounds, and an elaborate mausoleum was built in a small pine copse near the formal gardens. It is not known who designed the mausoleum nor the exact date of its construction. David Yule had amassed a phenomenal fortune which he left to his wife, who was reputed to be the richest widow in England. She commissioned Stephen Percival Cane (1881-1976), one of the most sought-after garden designers of his day, to design the small garden around Hanstead House which was completed in 1934. The Hanstead estate was sold in 1959 following the death of Gladys Yule and has since been used as a Bible College and training facilities. It is currently unoccupied.


Mausoleum of Sir David Yule, built in the late 1920s or early 1930s, by an unknown designer.

MATERIALS: pale ashlared stone and red clay plain tiles. Wrought-iron fence and gates.

PLAN: the mausoleum is rectangular on plan. It is located in a fenced enclosure in a small pine copse containing a burial ground, to the east of the formal garden.

EXTERIOR: the mausoleum is in the form of an open stone canopy under a hipped roof with sprocketed eaves and bonnet tiles. The square openings on each side of the canopy have quarter round hollow mouldings and slender attached shafts. Underneath is a low, moulded plinth over which a carved rug is laid, and upon this rests an elaborately carved stone desk and chair. The top of the desk is treated as a classical entablature with a dentilled cornice that rests on a panelled support, flanked by consoles enriched with acanthus leaves. Some books and papers are laid on the desk and a carved wreath rests against it on the south-east side. The X-shaped, Empire-style chair is embellished with scrolled arm rests and a floral motif at the intersection of the supports. The desk and chair are partly covered by a sumptuous carved drapery.

On the north-east and south-west sides of the plinth are long, narrow, carved panels containing reliefs illustrating scenes from David Yule’s life in India. They are a little weathered, but appear to depict a panorama of Calcutta, a jute plantation and two mills, said to be the Budge-Budge and the Delta Mills, both owned by Andrew Yule & Co. in Bengal. The south-east side of the plinth, just below the wreath, is engraved with ‘SIR DAVID YULE BT BORN 1858 DIED 1928’. The north-west side is engraved with the following quotation from ‘England’s Answer’ by Rudyard Kipling: ‘Go to your work and be strong/ Halting not in your ways/ Baulking the end half won/ For an instant dole of praise/ Stand to your work and be wise/ Certain of sword and pen/ Who are neither children nor gods/ But men in a world of men.’

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: the mausoleum is enclosed by a finely detailed, wrought-iron fence and gates, embellished with a variety of delicate floral motifs.

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