Christchurch, Dorset: Mrs Perkins' mausoleum
This mausoleum, originally constructed in 1783, stands in the gardens of Christchurch Priory. All is made clear in this old commentary:
“General Perkins was appropriately mated. Mrs. Perkins had a fine face and majestic form, but her charms were external, for oddities, whims, and caprices made up her character. Among other notions which haunted her irregular fancy was an invincible fear lest she might be buried alive. To prevent this dreaded evil she requested on her death bed;
(1) That her body might not be put underground, but that a fabric above the surface might be erected to receive it near the entrance to the Free School, then in St Michael’s Loft of the Priory, so that boy’s should hear her if she revived, and clamour for her liberation.
(2) That the lid of the coffin should not be screwed down, but be furnished with hinges, so that she might herself throw it open if resuscitation ensued.
(3)That the lock of the mausoleum should be so constructed as to enable her to open it by a spring, walk out, and resume her place in the living world.
Every iota of this request was fulfilled at her death (16th June, 1783, aged 47 years). The structure was immediately raised and the body placed in it. An elegant stone front to it was afterwards built, and stood as a monument of Mrs. Perkins’ whimsical turn of mind up to the death of her husband, Lieut.-Gen. J. F. Perkins (19th April, 1803, aged 75 years), when her body was removed to unite it with the General in the family vault at Winkton. The mausoleum was then sold, and its stone front now ornaments the greenhouse in the garden of Church Hatch.”
Winkton is a small village a few miles north of Christchurch, adjacent to the river Avon. Presumably the reference to Church Hatch is to its current location.
I have tried in this image to emphasise both the age and the unsettling character of this construction! My thanks to Karen M for drawing it to my attention.