Quarry owners’ mausoleum, Faenol, Bangor

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This Victorian mausoleum was built in the 1870s for the Assheton-Smith family, which owned the Faenol estate and the giant Dinorwig slate quarry. The building includes a bell tower and displays elements of the gothic style then fashionable. Stone and wood carver Robert Evans of Menai Bridge provided the ornamentation. Originally there were railings around the mausoleum.

Guests who visited the mausoleum included members of the British Dairy Farmers’ Association during a tour of the home farm at Vaynol (as it was then known) in 1896 to inspect livestock, including cattle of various breeds, angora goats and four-horned St Kilda sheep.

Thomas Assheton-Smith, who had developed the slate quarries, was buried in 1858 in Hampshire, where the family had another home, but later members of the family were buried here. They included Captain Robert George Duff, whose body was brought here from the Isle of Wight in 1890.

His son George had married Maud Assheton-Smith and was known as George William Duff Assheton-Smith. George died in 1904, aged 58. His coffin, draped in white silk, was carried from the house to the mausoleum on his favourite driving car, drawn by two horses.

The large cortege was headed by Bangor Cathedral choir, singing hymns. It included foresters, quarrymen and quarry managers, tenant farmers, workers from the slate quay in Y Felinheli and household servants. The mourning relatives included Walter Warwick Vivian, after whom the Vivian quarry near Llanberis was named. George was linked to the Vivian family through marriage, and left Walter a bequest of £77,000.

The estate passed to George’s younger brother Charles Gordon Duff, who changed his surname to Assheton-Smith. Charles died in London in 1914. His coffin came to Bangor by train but he was buried at the estate’s 16th-century chapel.

George’s widow Laura was buried at the mausoleum in 1940, and their daughter Enid in 1959. Enid was born at Vaynol in 1889. As a child, in 1894 she cut the first sod for construction of the Snowdon Mountain Railway. The railway’s first two locomotives were named Laura and Enid after mother and daughter. The latter still exists.

The woodland is now owned by the National Trust. Follow the link below for details of the circular route you can walk around the woods. 

Glan Faenol wildlife and woodland walk – National Trust website

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