Callendar House Mausoleum

In 1815 the first William Forbes of Callendar died and his trustees commissioned the London-based Scottish architect Archibald Elliot (1760-1823) to design a mausoleum.  Of the three designs submitted the one chosen took the form of a circular Doric temple 45ft tall.  It was constructed in the wood about half a mile from the house and can be seen towering above the trees at the far end of the loch in the print of 1818.   The heavily rusticated podium supports a cella and a peristyle of twelve columns under a ribbed stone paved roof.  The building is set within a circular enclosure 96m in diameter surrounded by a thick stone wall capped by huge, dressed copes.  Unfortunately, the trees now obscure it from view.  The estimated cost was £2,370, most of which was for the Brightons sandstone and the work of the mason, James Hendrie.  The latter’s initials are carved on the roof, out of sight.  Ironically, it is unlikely that William Forbes himself would have approved of such profligacy.

Illus 18: Sectional and Elevation Views of the Mausoleum.

Above the doorway of the Mausoleum there is an inscription in Greek which appears to be a verse by the poet Lucian.  A free but reasonably accu

The stunted entrance porch lies on the north side and is contained entirely within the podium.  Above the door a panel bears a Greek inscription which is a couplet from Lucian –


It can be translated as :

“Mortals; possessions are mortal, and all things pass us by; 
if not, at any rate we pass them by”. 

Inside the building three tiers of rectangular alcoves are arranged in the thickness of the podium wall, alternating between perpendicular and tangential to the circular interior, to receive the bodies of the deceased – 21 in all.  The first William Forbes of Callendar was placed here in 1816, the year after his death.  In 1866 it was the turn of Rose O’Hara, the Irish wife of William Forbes the second.  Other occupants include Colonel Charles Forbes (1948) and William Dudley Forbes (1977).  Large vents are placed high in the cella walls and the top is domed to support the roof slabs.

Illus: The Mausoleum looking north-east.



The building is set within a circular enclosure some 96m in diameter surrounded by a substantial stone wall – its symmetry undisturbed by the rapidly changing ground contours.  Outside of this is a shallow ditch.  In the east this is crossed by a causeway leading to an entrance flanked by tall square pillars and closed by a cast iron gate furnished with an urn monument. 

The occupants of the Mausoleum include:

  • 1816    William Forbes (I)
  • 1845    Lady Louisa Antoinette Forbes
  • 1855    William Forbes (II)
  • 1866    Rose O’Hara
  • 1902    Captain Henry Dudley Forbes
  • 1906    youngest son of Charles Forbes
  • 1914    William Forbes (III)
  • 1951    Jean Forbes
  • 1977 William Dudley Forbes

Each was buried according to Episcopalian rites.

In 1964 the grave monuments to the estate servants were transferred from the walled garden into this enclosure, a little west of the mausoleum, in advance of the construction of the college of education.  The enclosure still belongs to the Forbes family, but is frequently visited by the public, including a number of vandals.  Graffiti abounds on the walls.  In 1993 the metal mausoleum door was replaced by a concrete barrier.  The servant’s stones have been smashed to pieces.

Callendar House Mausoleum   SMR 577                     NS 9039 7899

G.B. Bailey, 2021