Sunday 29 June 2014

A Salon Guest: The Restoration of Ralph Allen's Tomb

Ralph Allen (St Columb Major, England, 1693 – Bath, England, 29th June 1764)

Today I intended to bring you a post about the quest to restore the mausoleum of Ralph Allen, a famed son of Bath who died on this day. However, I discovered that an excellent post on this subject had already been written and it tells the story beautifully. 

Thanks to the generous agreement of Christine Plunkett at St Mary the Virgin Church, Claverton, I am pleased to be able to share this post that was originally published at St Mary's website.
St Mary's is a grade II listed church with some important early examples of stained glass and monuments from the 17th Century.  In the churchyard is the pyramid topped mausoleum of Ralph Allen, one of Bath's most famous benefactors.
Ralph Allen was born in Cornwall in 1693 and moved to Bath in 1710 where he worked as a post office clerk.  By the age of 18 he was Postmaster of Bath and soon developed the cross and bye-posts, which in due course covered the whole country, revolutionising the postal system as it meant letters no longer had to pass through London, as before.  With the profits he made from the postal system he bought the stone quarries in Combe Down and together with architect John Wood, created the beautiful Georgian crescents and town houses Bath is famous for throughout the world.  His wealth enabled him to build Prior Park Mansion and create the gardens, now Prior Park Landscape Garden, a National Trust attraction.
Ralph Allen died in 1764 and was buried in the mausoleum he himself helped to design just before his death.
The mausoleum is now suffering from serious structural defects.  The iron railings surrounding the tomb and supporting the roof have rusted and corroded the Bath stone in which they are embedded.
Restoration in progress

Display boards at the mausoleum show a detailed description of the damage and the restoration method which is now underway.  The cost of the extensive work that is needed is estimated to be around £50,000.  A Heritage Lottery Grant has been awarded and matched funding has also been raised.
To learn more about Ralph Allen's work and life in Bath please visit the visitor centres of Bath Postal Museum, Combe Down Heritage Society, Prior Park Landscape Garden and The American Museum.

Written content of this post copyright © Christine Plunkett 2014


Gem Twitcher said...

Ralph Allen was also an original benefactor to our wonderful Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital

Unknown said...

I enjoy reading this post, very interesting !!!

Catherine Curzon said...

Indeed; one day I will convince you to write me something about your wonderful county!