18 February 2011

Searching for the grave of the 5th Duke of Portland

During a recent visit to London I spent a couple of hours wandering around the impressive monuments of Kensal Green Cemetery. Not only is it a superb example of an early Victorian cemetery but it also contains the grave of the eccentric 5th Duke of Portland, best known for being "The Underground Man" or "Mole Duke" who spent much of the family fortune constructing tunnels and underground rooms at Welbeck Abbey.

The Duke's monument is quite difficult to find*, despite being the largest plot in the cemetery, and is surprisingly plain (in stark contrast to those of many of his contemporaries). It consists of a pink Peterhead granite slab surrounded by grey granite kerbs and posts. The memorial was damaged by World War 2 bombing and bronze chains and fittings were stolen in the early 1950s. The inscription reads "SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF THE MOST NOBLE WILLIAM JOHN CAVENDISH BENTINCK SCOTT FIFTH DUKE OF PORTLAND. BORN 17TH SEPTEMBER 1800. DIED 6TH DECEMBER 1879."
* Thanks to John Clarke of Brookwood Cemetery for help with locating the monument.

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